WA farmers return

24 Apr, 2002 10:00 PM

WA farmers were given a warm welcome back to the Grains Council of Australia at Grains Week recently.

GCA president Keith Perrett welcomed the WA delegation back after its six-month absence and said that if the council was to speak credibly for the industry, it was important for it to be seen as representing all growers.

WA Farmers Federation Grains Section president Peter Wahlsten said WA growers had never intended to leave the GCA.

"It was simply a factor of finance," he said. "We are up for $140,000 ‹ $100,000 for the GCA and a contribution to the NFF," he said.

"We were fortunate that there has been an improvement in financial circumstances and we would not have been able to do it without donations from members and sponsors."

Mr Wahlsten said participation was regarded as very important.

"When we as a state are growing 30 to 40pc of the grain, then it is our view that we need to be there playing a significant part in providing direction to the grains industry at the national level.

"The actions of the WEA (Wheat Export Authority), GRDC (Grains Research and Development Corporation), Plant Health Australia and wheat breeders all impact on WA growers."

After six months raising funds to rejoin the GCA, Mr Wahlsten said Federal Agriculture Minister Warren Truss's announcement that the industry would have to fund the WEA was disappointing.

"We have so many levies," he said. "The government seems to be moving back in its support of the industry.

"My view is that where it is in the national interest, like Plant Health Australia, the GRDC and in quarantine, there is a role for the taxpayer and everyone should make a contribution.

"With the WEA, we may have to look at a two-tier idea where we have half the costs paid by the industry and perhaps the other half paid for by a fee for service."


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