AGRICUTLURE Minister Kim Chance has refuted claims that the agriculture portfolio will be subject to 'savage' funding cuts in the forthcoming budget.
He was responding to claims by WA National Party agricultural spokesman Murray Criddle that the agriculture minister had confirmed in parliament that Labour's Functional Review Committee had looked at aspects of all of the portfolios.
"The Agriculture budget took a belting in the last state budget with approximately 150 positions lost in regional WA and savage cuts to funding for research and development," Mr Criddle said.
"We are already hearing reports of the Department of Agriculture at Merriden preparing to shut down much of its research capacity."
"Research and development is a crucial component of the $3.8 billion agricultural industry in WA and what we need is investment in expertise and facilities, not a contraction of services," Mr Criddle said.
Referring to Mr Criddle's claims as 'baseless and mischievous rumours', Kim Chance said: "spending in the agriculture portfolio had been cut by 7.8pc over the past two years."
"This funding formed the basis of the agriculture budget and affected other sources of funding that is matched," he said.
"There were cuts across the board to all portfolios excluding police, health and education."
The Minister denied that the cuts to agriculture had been 'savage' in the last budget.
"I am not in a position to comment on forthcoming budget decisions until they have been made and announced.
"There are no specific funding cuts planned at Merriden Dryland Research Institute," Mr Chance said.