Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

GOVT WAY OFF MARK ON RURAL OUTLOOK Legislation A[euro][approximately]against Producers'

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

GOVT WAY OFF MARK ON RURAL OUTLOOK Legislation A[euro][approximately]against Producers'

Article excerpt

Byline: Christine Harch

"WHO is going to produce food in the future?a Widgee beef producer Fabian Webb asked yesterday.

Mr Webb was responding to rural lending survey figures from the QRAA (Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority) and Minister Tim Mulherin's comments that "Queensland's primary industries continue to be promisinga.

Gympie region producers' views seemed to fly in the face of what government departments claimed was an optimistic rural future for the state.

Mr Webb's Thornside property has been in the family since 1882 and Mr Webb himself has spent a lifetime in the cattle industry, but he is more than a little concerned about the future.

Between rates' increase, freehold land rights, vegetation rights, fuel costs and living expenses, the beef industry stalwart said acattle prices are nothing fantastica.

"Thornside is a very productive property but it's not producing anything like it's capable of producing," he said.

"I think government legislation and conditions make it difficult to make it more viable. We're surviving, but the future is a big concern to me.

"There's no incentive for younger people."

Dairy farmer and real estate proprietor John Cochrane has similar views, saying that ayoung blokes are going to the mines where they can make $120,000 a yeara.

"Why would they slog it out of a family farm?a He said inquiries for rural businesses are aextremely quieta.

"Prior to the financial downturn, people were coming out of the city and buying property," he said. "They were more hobby farms that gave a financial return, picked up capital gains and gave a lifestyle.

"When the financial down turn hit, they went back to their four bedroom, double lock-up and ensuites. No-one wanted small acreage and pools. The urban money stopped and there's been real trouble getting people to buy farms."

Progressive Dairies' group secretary and National Foods supplier Robyn Plunkett said while rural lending might have increased the loans ahave to be paid backa.

"As far as the milk industry's capacity to pay back, people are coming off contracts and are being offered 10 cents a litre drop in their price for their milk," she said. …

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