Major restructure for Agriculture Department

27 Feb, 2010 01:00 AM
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Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman at a GM protest earlier this week.
Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman at a GM protest earlier this week.

THE Agriculture and Food Department (DAFWA) moved a step closer to a new structure last week when six executive director positions were advertised and the Livestock Industry Development Plan 2009-12 report was released.

The call for a new executive and release of the finalised plan - put out for industry consultation last year - were part of Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman’s new strategic direction for the department.

Some of his key strategies include development of natural resource management and linking industry development opportunities to market requirements.

“We will be taking a market-led approach rather than being supply driven,” Mr Redman told a media briefing last week.

“We will focus on resources and areas that make a difference.

“The Government’s priorities for agriculture and food include economic development, creating opportunities for business and making a difference in terms of wealth and jobs.

“In short, we are making every hectare count.”

Mr Redman said while DAFWA oversaw a “large landscape”, the government was interested in targeting areas where it had the greatest impact.

“An industry-based planning process has helped to determine where some of the areas of focus should be for the department,” he said.

“Such analysis has identified key initiatives and actions for the department to respond and also requires realignment of resources and strategies.

“More work needs to be done but we have made a very good start.”

DAFWA director-general, Rob Delane, said the department had always been a strong regional organisation and the department’s facilities could be modernised in some areas, but some research stations established in the 1900s no longer served their original purpose.

He said about 45 per cent of the department’s staff were based in regional areas.

“This level of regional presence will be maintained,” Mr Delane said.

Mr Redman said key initiatives as a result of the planning process would be announced in coming weeks and months.

He said that in the grains industry, worth $4.7 billion in gross production last year, there were five priority responses.

They included:

  • Drive productivity in high rainfall areas by building enterprise profitability
  • Manage risk in changing circumstances by building resilience in water limited environments
  • Improve market access opportunities for safe, quality export grain and food ingredients that meet market requirements
  • Industry and resource protection of future generations by effectively managing biological threats and protecting future productivity of the natural resource base
  • Building better futures through accelerated growth of the grains industry in sustainable ways.

Mr Redman said that if the $2b WA livestock industry wanted to remain competitive it had to innovate and adapt production, processing and marketing systems to deal with changing consumer expectations, climate change, differing trade requirements and opportunities.

He recently announced the formation of a WA Beef Council, a key component of his response to the Stocktake Report.

He said the WA Beef Council would provide a central point to pull all parts of the supply chain together to make decisions about how to grow profits and attract investment.

“I want to see the WA Beef Council become a vehicle for collective and bold leadership to transform the beef industry,” Mr Redman said.

He said the horticultural plan promoted a progressive horticultural industry through efficient use of natural resources, high standards of biosecurity, modern marketing, value-adding and innovation to enhance continuous improvement through the supply chain.

Mr Redman said there had already been significant investment into expansion of the Ord irrigation scheme and a capital works program at Carnarvon to improve water distribution to horticulture plantations.

“A key part of ongoing work by the department will be ensuring ongoing access to suitable land and sustainable water resources for industry growth,” he said.

In relation to food, Mr Redman launched the Buy West Eat Best program’s Be Vocal About Eating campaign last week.

“It uses the voices of real growers in television advertisements as a novel and entertaining way of allowing WA producers to communicate with a key target audience, the consumer, and allowing them to tell the WA story,” he said.

“With considered support from Government through the department, the food industry can grow and become more competitive and sophisticated in nature, providing economic diversification and rewarding alternative employment to the resources sector.”

Mr Redman said that with support from the department, the food industry could grow and become more competitive and sophisticated in nature, providing economic diversification and rewarding alternative employment to the resources sector.

“During 2010 you will see new initiatives from the Government to help make every hectare count and a department that is more responsive, innovative, agile while continuing to complement and partner industry where required,” he said.

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