Move to ease pressure on WA farm sectory

30 Aug, 2000 03:04 PM
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A RURAL industry taskforce is expected to be set up to investigate ways of mitigating pressure on WA farmers who are experiencing a combination of seasonal and economic difficulties. The move resulted from an emotional public meeting at Jerramungup last week, when more than 80 producers turned up to raise their concerns with politicians, consultants and representatives of rural industry lending institutions. Organised by the Roe District committee of the Pastoralists and Graziers Association, the forum highlighted the current difficulties faced by farmers, including poor prices for wheat, meat and wool, outbreaks of pests such as locusts and aphids, last season's killer frosts, rising fuel prices, and a lack of available feed ‹ problems compounded by a late break to the season for many. As well, farmers were angry at the extreme difficulty in accessing exceptional circumstances assistance. PGA president Barry Court, who was at the meeting, said he had spent the weekend discussing the problems with Premier Richard Court and expected positive action to be taken shortly, including the establishment of the taskforce. The unit will be headed by MLC and State Rural Committee member Murray Nixon, who was among the politicians at the meeting. The first priority for the taskforce is expected to be helping farmers combat the looming locust plague, possibly through subsidies for chemicals. Mr Court said the meeting also carried motions aimed at: pmaking exceptional circumstances aid more user-friendly and individually targeted; precognising the severe financial pressures placed on farmers and rural businesses due to unfavourable seasonal conditions and low commodity prices; purging grower groups, politicians, consultants and financial institutions to work together to formulate more sympathetic financial arrangements for 2001; prequesting the federal trade minister to address the imbalance in the terms of trade; and paddressing the inequitable assessments of farm businesses by lending firms. Another politician at the meeting, Senator Winston Crane ‹ who farms in the area ‹ said he was disappointed at how the EC provisions appeared out of reach of deserving farmers. Last year, frost-hit farmers were denied any sort of EC funding. Senator Crane, as federal chairman of the Rural and Regional Committee, assured growers at the meeting that he would pursue the issue. PGA Roe Districts Committee chairman Ian Mangan, Gairdner River, said affected farmers were not "squealing for help". "We are good farmers going through a bad run," he said. "This country can recover in two to three years, given a capacity to continue funding and time to pay. "We want help to help ourselves."

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