How Pop and his Model B Mack truck defied the wheat board

Pig price is as usual sliding, now down to $3.50/kg (£1.95kg) due to the slipping pound. The real reason is revealed quite blatantly by the buyers: “Well cattle are too dear – $5.25/kg, (£3/kg) – so we have to make money somewhere!”
The hope for pig farmers next year is in the ferocious slide in feed barley prices. With the exception of oilseeds, the arable boys are in for real doing. As usual, for someone to make money in agriculture, someone else must lose.
This once again brings me back to my mate Pop in the good old days of the 60’s. In the 40’s, the Government brought in the Australian wheat board as a result of the cockies (farmers) getting thoroughly done over by the grain merchants.
All wheat grown by farmers became instantly the property of the AWB with heavy fines for selling outside it. By the 60’s the gloss was starting to wear off.
Legally farmers could not even sell a few bags of seed to each other, and with road transport now becoming fast and convenient many direct farmer sales began to develop, albeit illegally.
Payment for the crop took up to four years but sales to the chook blokes around Sydney were instant cash. This was an attraction too great for Pop to resist, coupled with his beloved B Model Mack truck to transport directly from his farm to end user, with no added charges.
All was going ‘just ducky’ until Pop received an invitation to attend a court hearing in his honour for selling wheat outside the AWB.
Once in the witness box the flash Sydney Silk proceeded to hammer Pop about his sales of wheat. Now this certainly would have been the end of Pop’s enterprise except for two things.
1) The Barrister had no idea what wheat was and how it differed to other grains like barley. Once this gate was opened Pop exploited it very professionally, making an absolute idiot of the Barrister.
2) At the same time, the old Beak took a shine to Pop, so when they got to areas of law, of which Pop had no idea, and he faltered with an answer that would incriminate him, the Beak leaned over and asked Pop if he understood the question.
“Not at all,” replied Pop, at which the Beak explained to Pop not only the question, but the right answer!
From then on it was all over for the AWB for every time Pop was asked a question that would again incriminate him, he turned to the Beak and said he did not understand the question.
The AWB’s case collapsed and Pop was once again a free man to resume selling his ‘barley’ at will.
Looking back this was when the tide turned for the AWB, and it finally closed.
So with disastrous grain prices ahead and still reasonable demand for pork due to its relative low market price, pig farmers’ time in the sun may well be extended for yet another year.

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About The Author

Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.