IN another bitter blow for the depleted agency additional job cuts within the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) have been given the go-ahead by government.
The department already reduced its staff numbers by 100 this financial year, as part of a Barnett Government voluntary redundancy scheme to shed 1500 employees from the public sector, with at least 50 already gone.
The Community and Public Sector Union and Civil Service Association (CPSU and CSA) understands the department plans to get rid of at least another 20 staff on top of the original 100 by the end of April through further voluntary redundancies.
A DAFWA spokesperson confirmed the additional cuts.
"Further decisions will be determined in accordance with the DAFWA's budget position and the 2015/16 budget," a spokesperson said.
"It is anticipated that there will be approximately 20 voluntary severances."
The union believes staff to be targeted will be those who originally applied for voluntary redundancy but were not successful in the initial round.
On top of that there are indications that more staff will lose their jobs in the 2015-16 financial year.
Prior to the redundancies being announced late last year the department had already shed about 600 jobs in 10 years.
CPSU and CSA branch assistant secretary Rikki Hendon said the Barnett Government's reduced funding for public services was putting a lot of pressure on agencies to reduce staff, yet maintain services at the same time.
"As a result agencies like the DAFWA are under increased pressure to reduce staff that is compromising the services they provide," Ms Hendon said.
"Already a lot of experienced people have left after providing support for the agriculture and food industry that plays a vital role for Australia's economy and is the lifeblood for hundreds of WA rural communities."
Late last year the department said its primary focus was to deliver all the services the agriculture sector requires.
WAFarmers president Dale Park said he is not sure what DAFWA will look like in the future.
"If agriculture is the next big thing, and agriculture can feed the world, then the real question is how are we doing this? I really don't know what we are going to do," Mr Park said.
"Those functions we thought DAFWA used to do, probably won't be done anymore.
"The real question is how many people does DAFWA need to perform?"
Mr Park said he was not surprised that there would be another 20 job cuts.
"I've seen this coming for a while, but maybe we were too well behaved, maybe we should have jumped up and down about it and said 'you can't do this'," Mr Park said.
"In the end, who do you fall back on and where do you go?"