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Rural debt demands attention



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MENT

'CRESS ^TATE

MINISTER PRIMARY

z sJ^

INDUSTRY

Not for publication before 8 pm. Fridays 74th Augu

RUTiAL DEBT DEIUi DS ATTENTION

The rising level of rural debt in Australia demanded

urgent attention, the Iiinister for - Primary Industry, Mr. Anthony, said tonight.

"Z believe we must look at the possibilities of

restructuring at least part of this debt," he said.

a^zr. Anthony was opening a symposium at the Australian National -university in Canberra on 'National Rural Policy'.

He said the rebuilding of the financial structure of rural industry would demand more attention in the future than it had received to date.

Mr. Anthony referred to the rural debt situation when he listed reconstruction as one of the essential elements of future rural policy for Australia,

Other elements included adjustment to change, an emphasis on productivity rather than production, provision of reliable

information to farmers about the market situation, and rural

development other than that based strictly on agriculture.

i r. Anthony said- "I see reconstruction as much more than merely putting two small farms together and getting rid of one of

the farmers, which seems to be the popular conception of it,

"Y see reconstruction as a rebuilding of an industry,

using the industry's available materials and resources, and perhaps some outside assistance.

9

"But reconstruction can mean even more than changing the physical structure of agricultural enterprises through amalgamation of farms and diversification of production.

"it can also mean a rebuilding of the financial structure of an industry."

hr. Anthony said reconstruction on the scale that had

been suggested for some industries, while no doubt warranted, was beyond the resources of the G overnment as a short—term project.

The huge amount of money and large number of people involved put such proposals out of immediate reach as a quick solution to rural industry problems.

This meant a decision must be made on priorities.

"iy feeling is that the aspect of reconstruction that can most effectively and usefully be tackled in the short term is financial reconstruction" he said.

"sIe will have to look at the need for such measures as debt consolidation, and provision of finance over longer terms than at present available."

xiir. Anthony said net rural indebtedness in the five years ended July 1969 had risen from ` 159 million to X1,037 million.

"What I'm saying is that reconstruction of both properties and finance is needed, and both must be tackled," he said.

"But because of the urgency of the financial crisis in which so many farmers find themselves, 1 believe we should attack

the finance side of the problem, not necessarily ahead of, but certainly at the same time as the physical side, and with even more short—term emphasis."

CANBE FA, 14th August, 10,70.

1

DR SS REI,EASE L

DAIRY RESEARCH.

The Minister for Primary Industry, Mr. Anthony, announced'today that

he had approved an allocation of $869,339 from the Dairy Produce Research Trust Account for the 1970/71 joint Commonwealth/Industry dairy research programme. This is approximately $52,000 more than the amount approved last year.

Mr. Anthony said that although the costs of undertaking research

had risen, so that about 95% of the allocation would be required to maintain those projects already directed at solving ?iiajor dairy industry problems, it had proved possible to continue to expand the overall

programme. 11&iphasis will continue to be placed on dairy husbandry problems, infertility, virus diseases and the development of.mastitis control pro-grammes" he said. "However the present overseas situation for butter

sales necessitates a re-evaluation of those dairy farm projects likely

to lead to increased output."

"In the field of manufacturing research, high priority will be given

to work leading to improvement in the quality of dairy products.

"Several new projects concerning the use of insecticides, freeze

drying of milk and improved cheese grading/maturing techniques have been

introduced in support of quality control investigations."

Mr.Anthony said that funds for dairy education had been increased by 50% to $30,000, to cater for an exp=ended pro ramm.e during the 1971 academic year and to provide greater training opportuni.ities for young men in the industry.

Funds also had been made available for several market research projects designed to analyse the pattern of household consumption of butter and margarine and to evaluate consumer preference for selected dairy spreads.

Mr. Anthony said the cost of dairy research was met by contributions

from dairy farmers by way of levy and all expenditure incurred in the pro-gramme was matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis by the Commonwealth Government.

"It is to the credit of the dairy industry that, despite their

present difficulties, they recognise the importance of a strong research

effort" Hr. Anthony added.

ClUTBERRA. A.C.T.

17/8/70