11 Jul 2013

Australian farmers facing tough times

6:31 am on 11 July 2013

Australian farmers are doing it tough with food imports becoming cheaper because of the Australian dollar's plunge against the greenback three years ago, just as the worst drought in living memory finally broke.

Although there's a general election in September, Australian farmers say their plight continues to be ignored by both Government and opposition.

Hundreds of jobs have gone from the regions as food processing factories close - or they've slashed production, leaving growers with tonnes of rotting fruit.

Regulations governing an overseas workers scheme have been tightened and farmers say it's made the scheme more complicated, time consuming and costly for them.

The opposition has offered tax incentives for investment in northern Australia, but beef industry leaders are not greatly cheered by that with 40% of Queensland still in drought and a summer wet not delivering across much of northern Australia.

Graziers are selling stock by the tens of thousands.

A new farm finance package including low interest loans announced in April has yet to deliver a single cent to farmers although the new Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has promised to make it a priority.