One of the big rural banks recently found that farmers had low confidence in the future of farming. And is there any wonder why? There is a plethora of issues coming at farmers including industrial relations, carbon emissions, road user charges, biosecurity taxes and the looming ban on live sheep exports. To understand how this Federal Labor Government sees farmers, you only have to see how they have responded to the latest round of the long-running case for compensation for the Gillard government’s live cattle export ban. It’s now 13 years since the trade was cancelled over night, but few farmers will have forgotten when Joe Ludwig, then-minister for agriculture, shut down the live cattle industry in a knee-jerk reaction in response to vision supplied to Four Corners. Cattle companies were immediately thrust into disarray being unable to move cattle on. A class action ensued with claims of nearly $1 billion against the Government. The courts found that the minister had acted with malfeasance and the government eventually offered $215 million as compensation to growers. Industry came back with a counteroffer of $500m, with interest, and the Government has now rejected that offer, sticking to its original $215m. It now remains to be seen how this will play out, but it has the continuing effect of a Government that is treating its farmers with contempt. No clearer can this be seen than the way in which Agriculture Minister Murray Watt and the Government have handled the potential closure of the live sheep industry. The simple fact is that the decision by this Government to now shut down the live sheep export industry has been one based on politics rather than rational science and evidence. For Labor Party politicians whose seats are based in inner-city Sydney and Melbourne, far from the concerns of farmers and the workers involved in the trade, it was an easy decision to ban something that was totally removed from their daily lives. For the politicians it was “phase out the trade and the jobs and preferences will flow”. The problem is there are no more jobs as we cannot attract those who live in inner-city seats to a job in regional Australia to pick up the knife and work in an abattoir. Agriculture is a soft target for the Government and for Mr Watt who is supposed to be an advocate for agriculture — something he is showing a remarkable talent for avoiding. This Government cares not a jot for farmers in the Murray-Darling where water reductions will mean $12b less farm gate revenue, and higher fruit and vegetable prices. It does not care for the loss of farmland to support their climate crusade as land and rural amenity is consumed by transmission lines, solar farms, and wind turbines. Or the fact that banning the live trade will see lower animal welfare standards as Australian sheep are replaced by those out of Africa and the Black Sea. Every decision has its consequences, something this Government fails to accept. John Hassell is the president of WAFarmers.