Bairnsdale biological agriculture researcher Alan Broughton and Queensland beef producer Elena Garcia have written a book questioning the benefits to farmers of free trade and deregulation.
The writers show that the promises have not materialised for farmers. The long-term trend of worsening farmer terms of trade has in fact been exacerbated as benefits are captured by other players in food production and distribution.
Free trade and deregulation has increased the competition between farmers but decreased it between input providers, commodity traders and retailers, enabling a greater extraction of profit from the efforts of farmers.
The benefits of increased exports rarely flow to the producers.
There is a continual drive for farmers to increase their inputs of fertiliser, mechanisation and pesticide to raise production to keep up, but this is self-defeating, causing greater indebtedness, heightened risk and further land degradation. The majority of farms only survive through off-farm income.
The authors conclude that corporate control of agriculture must be challenged in order for farmers to be properly rewarded for their work.
The book, “Sustainable Agriculture versus Corporate Greed: Small Farms, Food Security and Big Business”, will be launched at the Bairnsdale library on Wednesday March 8th at 5.30pm.