CHICK Olsson's proposals need a stronger dose of reality, writes ANDREW FARRAN
Fixing farming will require a more realistic set of proposals than those advanced by Chick Olsson (Weekly Times, February 6).
Farmers may feel disadvantaged as price takers rather than price makers in a globalised economy.
But for starters, no amount of sympathy for farmers could realistically allow a 150 per cent tax deduction on farm inputs as distinct from some increase perhaps in depreciation rates.
His radical proposal to shut down most (unspecified) research development corporations, all levy bodies, state farming bodies, and those "outside government that pretend to represent farmers" shows some recognition of the shortcomings of Australian Wool Innovation, the leadership of which he supported as an elected director for some years.
But apart from this, his other sweeping suggestions have a certain whiff of the imperious about them.
Next, he would seek a new world-class research facility - for all agricultural sectors presumably - and this would be free to farmers because they pay taxes, unlike others presumably.
But even tax-paying farmers would be problematical given the additional deductions he proposes for school and tertiary education, hospital and specialist travel to metropolitan centres, and tax-free income for farmers' wives.
Mr Olsson would be on sounder ground by supporting the abolition of the carbon tax and thereby reducing transport and electricity costs for farmers; by advocating that state governments should stop buck passing their responsibilities and costs on to the shires; and calling for the cessation of unfair differential council rates.
Politics is the art of the possible. Well meaning though the objective of "fixing farming" might be, no useful purpose is served by proposals that defy both logic and political reality.
- Andrew Farran is an Edenhope farmer.