Dale Park, president of the Western Australian Farmers Federation, said that fighting for the interests of the state’s farmers was essential in the lead-up to the poll.
“It is absolutely crucial the needs of the state’s producers are met by whichever party or parties win the right to govern this state in March, and a long-term plan for the State’s agricultural industries formed,” he said.
“We want answers from all sides of politics, and we will be writing to the major parties seeking meetings about their policies for the upcoming election and to discuss the needs of the state’s farmers.”
Call to action
The federation’s demands include a long-term plan for the state’s agricultural industries and reform of its land clearing laws to obtain financial compensation where restriction has been placed on future land clearing. It also wants improved community services in rural areas of the state.
Dealing with transport, the farmers have called for an extension in the operation of Tier III railway lines above the government’s current commitment for a broader grain rail network. They have also demanded increased funding for ageing rural roads.
Seeking to readdress the balance between farming and mining—the state’s two primary industries—WAFarmers is also seeking the introduction of an “agricultural land impact assessment” process in the evaluation of potential mining or industrial development in farming areas. It also wants a state salinity strategy and expansion of the State Rural Water Programme to include farm businesses.
In a move that will not likely please Green Party candidates, the farmers have demanded the continued use of genetically modified crops, including future research and development into GM crops and pastures.
Finally, the federation has called on the government to play its part in expanding the live animal export trade from the state.
Signing off the 10 key issues, Park also asserted that the incoming government must recognise the tough times farmers have been experiencing and highlighted their role in state finances.
“WAFarmers has said previously that the agricultural supply chain contributes 10% of the state’s economy and feeds 100% of the state’s population. This must be recognised by any state government.”
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