Ag alliance aims to promote positives

22 Jun, 2014 02:00 AM
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It is really important that the priorities of this organisation are driven by the 13 peak bodies

AN independent chairman has been appointed to the Agrifood Alliance WA (AAWA).

AAWA was formed in October last year as an independent industry-driven coalition of WA's 13 peak agriculture and food-related industry organisations.

The chairman of Lotterywest, immediate past president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and deputy chairman of the Committee for Perth, John Atkins, will chair the group.

The alliance encourages collaboration across the State's agrifood sector, providing a platform to identify and develop strategies and actions to enhance the profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of the sector.

Although he does not hold a background in agriculture, Mr Atkins said his experience as a board member and chairman would assist the group to work together for mutual benefit.

In the role, Mr Atkins will set the agenda for meetings and assist participants to define strategy and identify issues that are important for the agrifood industry as a whole.

He said the Alliance would develop positions, strategies and arguments to put forward to government in an effort to gain a more effective voice for agriculture at the Federal, State and local levels.

"It is really important that the priorities of this organisation are driven by the 13 peak bodies," Mr Atkins said.

"I can help them in defining that but it is really important that their priorities are progressed not mine."

Mr Atkins chaired his first meeting last week and while it is still early days, he was encouraged by the discussion and the enthusiasm of members to work together.

"I think this is an exciting time for the industry and that is one of the reasons I agreed to take this role on," he said.

The AAWA includes representation from WAFarmers, Pastoralists and Graziers Association, Fruit West, Sheep Industry Leadership Council, WA Beef Council, Wines of WA, Grain Industry Association of WA, vegetablesWA, CCIWA Food Industry Advisory Group,WA Pork Producers' Association, Western Dairy, WA Chicken Meat Industry Association, and Commercial Egg Producers Association of WA.

WA Beef Council chairman Tony Hiscock said the newly appointed chairman would give the alliance direction based on industry need.

"John Atkins is a prominent individual in business within WA," Mr Hiscock said.

"The fact he is fully independent, that being that he hasn't had a direct involvement in agriculture as such, means he is there for his business skills."

Mr Hiscock said so far AAWA had focused on getting all members around the table and understanding what other industries were doing and their future directions, as well as constraints they experience and synergies between sectors.

"From a networking perspective it is about finding out what other industries are doing and why they are doing those particular things," he said.

While red tape reduction and access to skilled labour were identified as prominent issues, Mr Hiscock said there was consensus among the group that lifting the profile of the WA agriculture industry was a major priority.

"People are tired of the woe-is-me story, they want to start focusing on what the real positives are for agriculture as a whole," he said.

"I think there are a lot of good news stories out there, there are a lot of successful business out there and we need to start focusing on those."

Mr Hiscock said representatives had also shared business plans with other industry bodies in an effort to identify synergies.

"There are a few common areas we are looking at trying to make sure we can pull the right strings as a united voice," he said.

"You've got all these major industries in WA coming together, sharing information openly and discussing a lot of issues that are impacting on agriculture as a whole.

"They are focused on how we can all get together and make change to get things happening."

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