WAFarmers withdrawal

30 May, 2002 07:00 PM
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By CHELSEA CORMELL

A REVIVED push to merge WA farm groups was not the likely outcome of WA Farmers Federation's drop from Australia's national lobby effort, according to president Colin Nicholl.

Despite rescue attempts, the embattled WA Farmers announced at the annual NFF conference it had been forced to discontinue its membership due to ongoing financial hardship.

But the result would not impede nor accelerate talks to merge WA Farmers and the Pastoral and Graziers Association, Mr Nicholl said.

He said the push for the merger had come from members of both groups and was not a financial decision.

The long-term survival of WA Farmers would depend on renewed corporate sponsorship to replace withdrawals, such as QBE insurance, and continued farmer membership.

Mr Nicholl said it was announced 12 months ago that WA Farmers was likely to withdraw from NFF but membership had actually increased over the period.

He said the outcome was disappointing but anticipated the group would rejoin within 12 months of the June expiration date of its current membership.

He said WAFF would appeal to keep an active association with NFF minus voting rights.

WA growers would be faced with even higher subscription costs without greater participation from a broader number of farmers due to escalating administration costs, he said.

NFF president Ian Donges said executive members agreed to step up the campaign to restructure NFF and its member groups into a streamlined organisation to alleviate pressure of rising costs.

It was decided a consultant would be hired at the next executive meeting in June, when two companies would pitch NFF to win the contract.

"The consultant will look at budget and the role of NFF and its general direction," he said.

Mr Donges remained optimistic that the NFF restructure would be underway within six months.

He said it was disappointing WAFF had to bow out but understood costs were a major factor, which was crippling other state lobby organisations also.

Trimming the fat on current administration structures is expected to focus national lobby efforts on key issues, such as property rights, which remained a major item on this year's conference agenda.

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