FOOD producers in the South West want to know why they were not advised about a forum to respond to the State Government’s Food Strategy WA.
Forums were held in Perth and Albany, but those scheduled for Bunbury, Geraldton and Northam had to be called off because of a lack of interest.
Agriculture Department industry development director Stuart Clarke said the department was not concerned about cancelling the forums.
But he did say there was a problem with the promotion of the forums to industry.
“I think it was more the timing of the forums being pre-Easter,” Mr Clarke said. “We are re-thinking the promotion of these forums and trying to get the word out stronger in the regions through direct contact with industry using our regional managers.
“We had a really good turn out in Albany which was a function of the Great Southern Regional Marketing Association and it went really well.
“It wasn’t a function of disinterest; it was the fact that producers and industry did not know anything about it.”
The forums were promoted through the department’s Agri-Food infonet newsletter and its local network.
“We are planning to hold forums in those areas in three weeks and possibly adding Carnarvon and Kununnurra depending on local interest, so there will be another opportunity for producers to provide feedback to the discussion paper,” Mr Clarke said.
“While I understand producers may be disappointed about not knowing about the forums, these rescheduled forums will offer them the chance to still have input into the strategy.”
Food producers say that they knew nothing about the forums. Red Meat Action Group chairman Gary Buller said the group found out about the forum the afternoon before it was to be held.
“The forums were scheduled to start the next morning at 9.30am and the first we heard about it was at 3.30pm the previous afternoon,” he said.
“You would think that with the coverage we have had and the concerns we have raised regarding the future of the red meat industry, that we would have been one of the first groups they contacted to be involved.
“It is difficult to have confidence in the people running the industry and the strategies they implement when we are not even informed about a forum such as this.”