For Like minded people who like to see-
It’s the farmer’s problem – let them fix it.
It’s a fair question to ask why haven’t the landholders done something about salt? Why haven’t they adopted the products of research? After all it is their land. Well, here is the answer:
The numbers speak for themselves, in the same survey:
Eighty two point two per cent of farmers in the WA grain belt claimed that a limited or very limited financial resource prevented them from doing anything about their encroaching salt land. 64.8% claim lack of time. 31.2% claimed insufficient/inadequate information and 38.1% had doubts about the likely success.
Farmers claim they have no money — Is it true?
Is the claim made by landholders that they don’t have the money to combat salt encroachment true?
In 2010 the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) produced a report:
Financial performance of grains producing farms, 2007–08 to 2009–10.
To the best of my knowledge this report, conducted by a federal government agency and funded by the GRDC, which in turn is funded by grain growers, has received no publicity from the Federal or State Government or the state and national farm organizations, the so-called Peak Bodies, or the rural and mainstream media.
The lack of publicity is not surprising when the financial performance of all grain farmers is examined. Is it the financial Elephant in the room of Australian grain growers that nobody wants to recognize. Because to recognize it would be to accept an ‘awful truth’?
The ABARE report covers the three years 2007/8, 2008/9, 2009/10. During that time the percentage of grain growers showing a negative farm business profit is 50%, 60% and 61% respectively.
As far as the holy dollar is concerned the numbers are even more disturbing. Over the same three years all grain farmers showed a farm business profit of minus $1,500, plus $24,500 and minus $15,500.
The year 2009/10 was an estimate based on the average yield over time and the ABARE forecast price for grain.
As we all now know Mother Nature, as she often does, interfered with the economist’s view of the future. WA, our biggest grain-growing state, suffered a drought. For many on the other side of the country too much water at the wrong time played havoc with yields. So the numbers above will probably turn out to have been optimistic.
Another ABARE survey covering 2001-2002 to 2003-2004 surveyed 118 grain farmers from all regions in WA and averaged the results of those years.
Across the grain belt the top 25% of grain growers had a farm business profit of $258,125. The average was $42,907. The bottom 25% made a loss of $158,000.
So, the most recent survey was not a one-off. The majority of grain growers have been facing problems for years.
Could an increase in rural debt of the magnitude depicted below, possibly have anything to do with why farmers claimed they could not afford to take action over the ever-increasing area of salt on their farms?
In June 1970 rural debt in Australia was $2082 million. In 1980 it was $3769 million. In 1990 it was $12023 million. In 2000 it was $26430 million and then, in just nine years, by June 2009 it had leapt to $62167 million. (RBI)
Why have we seen this increase in rural debt over time?
As I think you are aware. Farmers in WA solved this problem several years ago. Their solution was banned by DAFWA, because DAFWA and environmental groups have so much invested in the problem persisting. The ban destroyed the capital and lives of the heroes that solved the problem.
Very typical of government intervention.
Sorry, Matt, you have me there.
I know they are still pumping salt water from under Wagin and Katanning to stop the buildings falling down and I am not aware of anyone having anything, either financial or intellectual, invested in ensuring that the area of salt land in WA continues to grow.