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Desperate farmers hope Premier can help solve issues

Beef farmers in the Nagoorin area (in the Boyne valley) Craig McLachlan, They say there are policies the federal and state governments could change to improve circumstances for farmers. Photo Brenda Strong / The Observer
Beef farmers in the Nagoorin area (in the Boyne valley) Craig McLachlan, They say there are policies the federal and state governments could change to improve circumstances for farmers. Photo Brenda Strong / The Observer Brenda Strong

FARMERS will deliver a loud message to Premier Campbell Newman when he lands in Gladstone today - their industry is on its knees and he must bring about some major changes.

The Premier will speak with farmers at an AgForce event in Gladstone.

The Observer visited Nagoorin in the Boyne Valley and asked farmers about the issues affecting their livelihoods.

They said the state of roads in the Boyne Valley was hitting them hard, especially in the aftermath of floods.

AgForce councillor outlines issues: full story here

Nagoorin beef farmer Craig McLachlan said farmers needed the right conditions to operate successfully.

"I think maintaining the infrastructure that's out in the bush (is a big issue)," Mr McLachlan said.

He said running a farm was a serious business, not a hobby. Like any business, profitability was hurt when infrastructure failed.

"It's not good being out here with roads cut off," he said. "It's not good sitting out here with no phones. There are things like that where we are being left behind."

The farmers said they were grateful Mr Newman was coming to speak face-to-face with them, but they had plenty to tell him.

The farmers' biggest worry, by far, was the extremely low price they are being offered for their produce.

The Premier has no power over that issue, but the farmers will ask him to use his influence to help bring about a solution.

Every farmer spoke passionately about the damage being done by ridiculously low prices. They were in no doubt about who was to blame.

"Woolworths and Coles. They are the main two that are ruining the whole industry," said Charlton Doblos, a beef farmer based 17km east of Nagoorin.

Another beef farmer, Neville Mosman, said the ACCC needed to get tougher on those supermarkets to fix the problem. "We are still basically getting the same price we were getting in the 1980s, but our costs have all gone up," Mr Mosman said.

It's not good being out here with roads cut off. It's not good sitting out here with no phones. There are things like that where we are being left behind.

They warned current prices threatened the future of food production in Australia.

Mr Mosman, along with fellow beef farmers Craig McLachlan and Charlton Doblos, believed the ACCC needed to get tougher to fix the problem.

Another concern for farmers in the Gladstone region is the dreaded Bovine Johne's disease, which has been found in Central Queensland recently.

"One of the first things I would say (to the Premier) is Bovine Johne's disease," Mr McLachlan said.

The disease is rare in Queensland, but has the potential to wreck havoc on a beef farmer's livelihood.

Mr McLachlan said more funding was needed for quarantine and stock inspections.

Mr Doblos said another issue was heavy-handed regulation to appease animal welfare groups.

"They want you to look after the animal like it was your child, and yet they still want to kill it on Friday to eat it," he said.

Topics:  boyne valley, campbell newman, dairy farmers, gladstone region, nagoorin




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