Tax Benefit Donations

If you will be paying tax this year you may wish to see your tax funds directed to support better agriculture, food, economy and environment.  Here is a donation form and there is a further explanation below.

 OFA Trust Donation form 3:12

Privatising the Tax System: Biodynamics and Freedom

Hamish Mackay

January 2012 has seen a flurry of Commonwealth Grant Applications to compete for over $600 million of government handouts for rural Australia.

If we step back from this process we recognise such government generosity is in fact funded by us – the Australian taxpayer.  Who benefits?

Having witnessed the constraints of government funding and the constant, stressful, time consuming need for regular applications, I remain optimistic that the biodynamic movement can lead the adoption of better practices not only agriculture, but also in culture and economy.

In comparison, the US National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy has just issued a report Cultivating the Grassroots: A Winning Approach for Environment and Climate Funders[1] which argues “that we can secure more environmental wins by decreasing reliance on top-down funding strategies and increasing funding for grass-roots communities that are directly impacted by environmental harms and have the passion and perseverance to mobilize and demand change.”

The ‘get big or get out’ and Green Revolution brands of agricultural progress encouraged and supported by successive Australian governments of whatever political colour, coupled with their equally bi-partisan support of cheap food imports, is reducing the number of Australian farmers by 30 per week.  Our governments also remain silent while large areas of good agricultural land are sold off to foreign interests.  Our governments further fail to encourage our young to remain in or enter agriculture.

Counter-intuitively, the adoption of biodynamic, organic and biological agricultural methods has grown during this time, led by those who are passionate about staying in agriculture and the quality of what they produce. Many are also optimistic about the contribution they can make to improving the environment. These are the individuals and communities that ought to receive our encouragement and support; those our governments should be helping – not just the big operators and importers.

Biodynamics does not guarantee farm viability but the majority of biodynamic farmers reduce input costs, improve quality, productivity and net returns; at the same time regenerating the landscape , sequestering carbon and providing consumers with better quality food and fibre.

Once emancipated from the ‘get big or get out’ syndrome and the chemical treadmill of the Green Revolution, a further challenge is to bring some innovative thinking to the taxation system and stimulate more change.  I believe government grants are a very inefficient and inequitable regarding distribution of resource to the agriculture sector, particularly the biodynamic and organic movements that have received little or nothing from such grants or from industry sector levies over the years. (RIRDC no longer has an organic section, “Free Trade Agreement” imports undercut local producers et al).

To facilitate growing independence and attract tax deductible donations – drawing on the funds before they get to the tax office – the Organic Federation of Australia (OFA), peak body for Australian organic movement, has established The OFA Environmental Research and Education Trust “to invest in scientific research and education in areas relevant to organic and biodynamic agriculture. As consumers and society in general seek improved health and environmental outcomes from the food system, the emphasis of research and education is on increasing knowledge and awareness of health and environmental benefits of organic farming”.

Within this Trust Biodynamics2024 has negotiated a Biodynamic Education Project to support the ongoing adoption of biodynamics in Australia with subsidised biodynamic workshops, community presentations to educate the community and conventional food suppliers about the benefits and value of biodynamic and organic food production and supply and remove barriers to transitioning to biodynamics.

I believe the biodynamic movement will achieve a fuller and more independent contribution to Australian agriculture, economy, environment and culture if mindful consumers, together with successful biodynamic producers, fund the education and promotion work out of freedom.  In other words independent of government support and control.  Such individuals are better placed to recognise the value of what is being offered than bureaucrats or politicians. The Biodynamic Education Project is a vehicle to achieve greater biodynamic presence in rural Australia.

If you will be paying tax this year and wish to see your tax funds directed to support better agriculture, food, economy and environment,  please contact me or complete an OFA Trust Donation form 3:12

[1] http://www.ncrp.org/files/publications/Cultivating_the_grassroots_final_lowres.pdf

 


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