THE Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) has explained the reasons for its departure from the

25 Jun, 2007 08:45 PM
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PGA treasurer Bevan Henderson said that there had been increasing concern within the association for some years over increasing cost and declining relevance of the NFF, particular to WA.

The fallout occurred late last week when the NFF council said it would not accept a revised membership status proposal from the PGA.

Mr Henderson said the PGA had requested a one-seat membership fee of $38,000 a year to remain in the NFF.

The NFF requested the PGA take up three-seat membership status as part of a six-seat availability for WA representation.

Mr Henderson said the PGA admitted to representing less than 50pc of WA growers and therefore a three-seat membership was not viable.

The PGA was also offered transitional membership at $40,000 a year, where taking up full membership was conditional after two years.

³That¹s why we said no,² Mr Henderson said.

³We were not going to pay $80,000 over two years to be back in a position where we are having the same argument again.

³We have maintained our membership of NFF over the past five years.²

Mr Henderson said in that time, the PGA had been providing essential input at high cost on behalf of all WA producers, while representing less than 50pc of those producers.

³That input has ranged from developing the National Water Initiative and keeping a balance on environmental concerns, to significant taxation and superannuation benefits for farmers, through to completion of the US Free Trade Agreement,² he said.

PGA had also been instrumental in securing NFF support for WA¹s livestock export industry, including Australian Farmers¹ Fighting Fund underwriting for the pending State Government case against WA exporter Emanuel Exports.

³Our withdrawal from NFF will provide extra financial and human resources for PGA to intensify its lobby efforts at the federal level,² he said.

³It will also enable us to focus more on WA issues and on building the membership strength of the PGA.

³Our leaving the NFF will further fragment Australia¹s farm lobby and it will further isolate WA.

³However we see issues such as grain marketing, genetically modified crops and livestock exports continuing to demand more of our attention, along with increased focus on water and environmental issues.²

The PGA has previously resigned from membership and associate memberships of NFF subsidiaries WoolProducers and Grains Council Australia because of policy conflicts.

Cattle Council and Sheepmeats Council membership for WA also remains under review.

The PGA¹s departure is the second time in less than five years a WA farm lobby group has exited NFF due to financial circumstan-ces. In 2002, WAFarmers went through financial difficulties and consequently bowed out of the NFF council after a major restructure and relocation of the organisation.

WAFarmers president Trevor De Landgrafft conceded that the loss of QBE sponsorship worth $300,000 had left a huge hole in the organisation¹s budget.

He said the NFF had since presented various deals to WAFarmers in an attempt to woo them back.

Mr De Landgrafft admitted WA¹s lack of representation nationally was a concern.

³Representation on other councils is also fracturing,² he said.

Mr De Landgrafft has been an open supporter for a united farm lobby group in WA and admits to canvassing the idea with the PGA.

³I believe it is a growing recognition that it will become inevitable that we should be doing everything possible to speak with one voice,² he said.

³There¹s really only enough resources in WA for one group.²

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