What Can Farmers Do To Win?

Organic certification is one way around that, but there’s a lot of farmers who are not really interested in becoming organically certified, but they still want to produce using biological methods.

Fair trade certification. I’m very sceptical about some of the fair trade products that are on sale. I think the process of them getting that certification is not very rigorous. If you get a combination of fair trade and organic, then you can be guaranteed that it is genuine.

Group solutions for farmers, cooperatives for buying and selling. Some aspects of Australian agriculture have got a good background in cooperatives, particularly in the dairy industry. There were dozens and dozens of dairy cooperatives at one time. The cooperative movement is a lot stronger in quite a lot of other countries, in the United States and Europe, India, than it is in Australia. The cooperatives in Australia felt that they had to compete with the private sector, and so ones like Murray Goulburn started selling shares on the stock market. Semi privatisation. That’s not completely privatised, but it means once you’ve got shareholders, they want a profit, so it’s the profit of the shareholders that becomes the most important thing, not the benefits to the farmers. That was a big issue with Murray Goulburn for example, that when they decreased the price of milk that farmers were getting, yet they had a $41 million profit that they shared out among their shareholders.

Farmer to farmer education. There’s a couple of pictures here of the field days. These are going on all the time. I went to one on Wednesday, I went to another one a couple of weeks ago. There’s lots of these things going on. A lot of them are funded by Landcare, because there’s no … The Departments of Agriculture are totally useless in this regard.

Landcare groups have played, at least in my area, they have played quite a vital role in bringing alternative agriculture methods directly to farmers.

Collective bargaining. This used to be illegal in Australia, until not very long ago, perhaps 10 years. I think I’ve got the date in the book. Collective bargaining is when farmers get together and refuse to supply a product at a particular price.

If you’d like to know more Alan Broughton is speaking about his book:
“Sustainable Agriculture versus Corporate Greed”

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