WAFARMERS is hoping for a meeting soon with new Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan, the fourth minister in the portfolio in just over a year.
President Tony York confirmed WAFarmers had approached Ms MacTiernan’s office seeking a meeting for himself and chief executive officer Stephen Brown with the new minister at her earliest opportunity.
They met with each of her three predecessors.
“We’re hoping for a meeting, but haven’t heard anything back yet,” Mr York said on Monday.
In December the previous minister Mark Lewis was given a personal tour of the Tammin cropping and sheep property Mr York farms with his brother Simon.
Mr York said he would extend the same invitation to Ms MacTiernan to tour the farm when he got the opportunity.
“I’ll invite her to come out but I haven’t had the chance yet, we haven’t had a face-to-face meeting,” he said.
He hoped WAFarmers’ section presidents would also get a meeting with Ms MacTiernan but acknowledged that “might take some time” to arrange.
Mr York said his group wanted to discuss a “range of issues” with the minister.
He confirmed the shrinking dairy industry – 12 months ago WA had about 159 dairy farmers and it now has 142 – and balancing the State’s milk production with market demand, were issues to be raised.
In October in his first fortnight as minister Mr Lewis met with WAFarmers dairy section president Michael Partridge, three farmers dropped by Brownes Dairy a month earlier and a farmer who was to be dropped by Harvey Fresh in January.
But Mr Lewis admitted after the meeting there was nothing he could do to help them.
Agriculture and food ministers before Mr Lewis, Dean Nalder and Ken Baston, did not met with dairy farmers to discuss the oversupply issues that beset the WA industry last year as a result of European dairy product being dumped in Asia and destroying potential Australian export markets.
Mr York said other issues he wanted to discuss with Ms MacTiernan included establishing long-term research and development (R&D) strategies for WA’s grains, cattle and sheep industries and reviewing biosecurity.
“Noises I’ve heard (from Ms MacTiernan’s office) about moving R&D from a Royalties for Regions project base to a more secure consolidated revenue base have been very promising,” Mr York said.
“Also, she’s promised to review the Biosecurity Act 2007 and we would like to hold her to that.”
Mr York said he was not concerned by statements Ms MacTiernan had made on tougher enforcement of Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) for live exports or on genetically modified canola.
“I think she was just creating some room to move for herself if the situation looks like it might change on those issues,” he said.
Apart from Agriculture and Food Minister, Ms MacTiernan is also Minister for Regional Development and Minister assisting Premier Mark McGowan as Minister for State Development, Jobs and Trade.