THE WA Nationals want Northam to be the base for the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce is pushing to move the GRDC out of its Canberra home and into a regional area.
And Nationals Member for Central Wheatbelt Mia Davies says Northam would be a prime location, touting WA's position as the nation's largest grain producing and exporting region as credentials to back her call.
"I support the Minister Joyce's push to decentralise our research organisations, it makes sense to embed these organisations in areas that are close to the coalface," she said.
"Northam is a thriving hub of agricultural activity, the region is surrounded by leading grain growers, has a network of agricultural education and training institutions, well-established transport infrastructure and a growing population."
In a recent letter to the GRDC, Mr Joyce has asked the corporation to cover the potential $31.2 million move and advise him by the end of June which location best suits its needs, with a final decision to include consultation.
Ms Davies said WA's continuing growth in production, reaching record levels and worth $5 billion annually, placed the State as a key location for the GRDC.
She also added WA was home to Australia's leading grain research authority, the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) and the geographical proximity would benefit the GRDC.
Ms Davies said the WA Government had made investment in the agricultural sector through the Seizing the Opportunity initiative equating to $300m.
"We are targeting the biggest spend in the history of agriculture in this State to drive innovation, support growth and remove barriers in the supply chain for our primary producers," she said.
Federal Liberal Member for O'Connor Rick Wilson also supports a GRDC based in WA and warned if the slated Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, location went ahead growers would be disenchanted with the east coast focus.
"I think that moving the entire operation to Wagga Wagga would further isolate it from WA growers," he said.
"In the past WA growers have contributed up to 40 per cent of GRDC levies and have received only 27pc of it back for WA projects.
"While allowing for some administrative costs, there is some discontent already among WA growers that we're not getting a full share of our research and development investment in WA.
"I think moving the headquarters will reinforce the view that WA is not getting a fair deal."
Mr Wilson flagged the University of WA in Perth and the Muresk Campus near Northam as sites well suited to a GRDC headquarters.
"I think the Minister has opened a can of worms here and while I understand why he's pushed for decentralisation, in a national body such as the GRDC it's going to be hard to find a site that will keep everybody happy."
Mr Wilson also said the question of who pays for the move should not be answered with the grower- contributed levy funds that run the GRDC.
"I think the notion that growers who have contributed an R&D levy be forced to pay out on a politically inspired decision to move the headquarters is ludicrous and I think there will be a very heavy pushback from growers," he said.
"I think it will be a hard sell for the Minister."
WAFarmers grains section president Duncan Young referred to Mr Joyce's plans as a "social relocation" that grower's levy payments should not be funding.
"Until there's a business case that can state it's going to be of benefit for the growers, WAFarmers sees it as a social relocation and believes levy money shouldn't be used," he said.
"If there is shown to be a good case to relocate with advantages then we will examine that and support it if we see the benefits.
"But I struggle to see how a good case could be put forward because of the amount of money involved."
Mr Young said a decentralisation plan he would support involved maintaining GRDC administration centrally in Canberra and regional offices matching the current GRDC structure.
"Using the three GRDC regions in existence you could base an office in regional areas and make it more autonomous for funding and driving efforts locally," he said.
"We would like to see that over a whole site move to Wagga Wagga or otherwise.
"This would decentralise but in a more targeted manner."
Pastoralists and Graziers Association western graingrowers chairman John Snooke warned decentralising the GRDC had come at a time when the conversation should be centred on creating a more efficient R&D organisation for grain growers.
He said the current R&D agricultural levies senate inquiry was finally highlighting the need for change in the sector.
"I see it (the GRDC decentralisation) as a secondary issue, our organisation doesn't believe until the system is changed that any move of the GRDC will make a difference," he said.
"We have concerns that finally we're starting to see some light being shone on the GRDC through this senate inquiry and I'm concerned this is a diversionary tactic to starve that process of oxygen.
"We want the GRDC conversation to be on productivity and that's always been our focus.
"We're not getting the productivity gains from the mandatory levy so we need to look at the system and make improvements in that area."
Mr Snooke said spending money on new buildings would not help Australia reach productivity levels as seen in the US and Canada.
"We eagerly await the recommendations of the senate committee looking into the levy system and we're delighted that Senator Leyonhjlem and Senator Reynolds are really shining the light onto this whole area of agriculture," he said.
"The ultimate test of the GRDC is, would it be funded if the levy was voluntary?"
MORAWA grower Chris Moffet said he welcomed the push to relocate the GRDC?to a regional area and hoped it would better connect the corporation with the areas it is working for.
"The more things we can get out of Canberra and into regional areas the better," he said.
"I would support the notion of decentralisation and an office being based in WA, but bureaucrats are ensconced in the Eastern States.
"The GRDC needs to get out where the money is eventually headed in the grain growing regions of Australia; and they don't grow much (grain) in Canberra.
"I'm all for research getting out of the offices into the field."