Farmer Focus: Politicians need to wake up to the food crisis

I watch the farmer protests sweeping Europe with interest and sympathy and have reason to reflect on our experiences.

As a faming business, we have very good irrigation infrastructure, reasonable scale and a relatively low level of debt. We are having a very good harvest, with good prices.

However, if we take a clinical look at our business, we are no longer financially sustainable.

See also: Farmers will lose industry without action, warn Welsh protesters

About the author

David Clark
Farmer Focus writer
David Clark runs a 463ha fully irrigated mixed farm with his wife Jayne at Valetta, on the Canterbury Plains of New Zealand’s south island. He grows 400ha of cereals, pulses, forage and vegetable seed crops, runs 1,000 Romney breeding ewes and finishes 8,000 lambs annually.
Read more articles by David Clark

This is a serious concern. If a well established, low debt farming operation has no long-term financial viability, what is the viability of most other farms?

Not to mention the never-ending list of expectations from government, processors and consumers of the endless hoops they want food producers to jump through.

Those in government breathe the rarified air of bureaucracy and think they are fulfilling the will of the people with ever increasing regulation.

When I look at consumer expectations, free range eggs are a great example.

When polled, the majority of consumers say they want the natural dream for the chook, whereas on leaving the store, the vast majority buy on price alone.

Much like if asked in the street I might desire a luxury SUV, but my reality is my budget dictates that I drive a 4wd Double Cab.

For processors and retailers, adding a gimmick to food packaging is a great marketing ploy, so long as it does not increase the price.

Shoddy imports are then used to provide the leverage on virtues and keep a cap on prices.

When I look at our cost escalation, it points to corporate greed.

While I am sure Covid was not a conspiracy, the saying “never let a crisis go to waste” would be appropriate as we look at corporates harvesting super-profits from producers both up and down stream of the farm gate.

The reality we face is that the income received for growing food no longer covers the cost.

Either the consumer is not paying enough, retailers are harvesting super-profits or the suppliers of our inputs have pushed their pricing well above productive values.

As for the politicians and bureaucrats, they need to get out of the rarified air and realise there is a global crisis among food producers.

I have the greatest of sympathy for the farmers taking their plight to the public in the most dramatic way.

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