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'Ma and Pa' farm jibe rebutted

Union leader Paul Howes believes small family farming should end to enable Australia to transform into a modern economy.

December 3, 2013 8:45am

Union leader Paul Howes believes small family farming should end to enable Australia to transform into a modern economy.

Commenting on the federal government’s decision to block the ADM takeover of GrainCorp, Mr Howes said: ‘‘It essentially means the day of ma and pa farming in Australia needs to end. We need to have a transformation,”

Mr Howes is the national secretary of the Australian Workers Union.

‘‘We need large-scale diversified companies operating in this sector and too often we see smaller companies going through boom and bust cycles because they are concentrated into one sector of the economy,” he told Sky News.

‘‘Small farms, he said, were hostage to the Australian climate. “You have droughts and you have floods and if their produce is wiped out by that particular element then you have those companies falling over.”

He said Australia should be looking to large scale conglomerates like in the US.

Prime Minister Tony Abott said the comments betrayed ‘‘a certain ignorance of the farm sector, and I think it betrays a lamentable contempt for family business and for family farming,’’.

‘‘These family farms are very sophisticated operations, multi-million dollar operations, they’re highly efficient and capable of competing on good terms with much larger businesses.’’

Australian Dairy Farmers condemned comments by Australian Workers Union national secretary, Paul Howes that the era of family farms needs to end if Australia is to position itself as the food-bowl of Asia.

Australian Dairy Farmers President, Noel Campbell, described Mr Howes comments in The Australian newspaper published on Sunday as a simplistic thought bubble that contributes little to the dairy industry or agriculture in general.

‘‘Let’s be clear, were not talking the Beverley Hillbillies - family-owned enterprises comprise over 90% of farm ownership in an industry that directly employs 43,000 Australians and generates $13 billion in exports ever year,’’ Mr Campbell said.

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