UNITY within the agricultural industry was a key underlying theme at last week's WAFarmers' Trending Ag 2019 annual conference and one of the more popular questions at the conference came from industry stalwart Bob Iffla.
The Newdegate farmer received a round of applause when he asked Grain Producers Australia (GPA) director Andrew Weidemann why GPA couldn't join forces with GrainGrowers Limited (GGL) to create one body.
"The discussion of one voice within agriculture has been an important thing today, so how about GPA joins with GrainGrowers?" Mr Iffla asked.
"You do a lot of good jobs and have a lot of good people and so do they, so join together."
Speaking after the conference, Mr Iffla said it made a lot of sense for GPA and GGL to be one body.
"Why would you want two peak councils, it doesn't make any sense at all," he said.
"Put the human and financial resources together and you would have a much stronger organisation.
"It is common sense to bring things together and I feel the same way about getting WAFarmers and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association together to strengthen representation in WA."
Mr Iffla said (Australian Livestock Exporters Council chairman) Simon Crean made it clear in his presentation to the conference that more unity was required within agriculture.
"As he said 'If you are a Federal minister and you have several different organisations coming in and presenting different views on the one issue, where do you stand as a minister and who do you represent?'," he said.
"The number of farmers out there is getting less and less and we really don't have enough people to have too many organisations representing on the same things, so bring them together.
"It shouldn't be difficult, you just have to have the will to do it."
In responding to Mr Iffla, Mr Weidemann said there was more unity in the grain industry now than in the past.
"We are working a lot closer together and seeing a lot more unity at the moment in regards to the issues we are facing right across the ag sector in grains, so yes I do see a day when the industry will come together in grains and I don't see that being something we are not fighting towards, but at the moment when you have competing SFOs (self-funded organisations) having their voice at a grassroots level, how do we marry that up to get everyone working together as a team," Mr Weidemann said.
"I think it is absolutely noble we have a single voice and you can be there at that really strategic high level but you have to let competition play out in underneath on a range of factors because we are in a highly competitive environment."
Speaking to Farm Weekly after the conference Mr Weidemann said it was a "cheeky" question from Mr Iffla given there was no single voice at a farm lobby level in WA, which is quite different to the other States.
"At the moment, GPA and GGL both have our strengths in certain areas and we are supporting growers nationally and we are working well together at the moment and there is no question of that," he said.
"We have some big issues facing grains at the moment and we have to try and work through those the best we can."
GGL deputy chairman and Coorow grower Rod Birch said while GGL was not talking or discussing amalgamation at all, there was common ground on grain industry issues between GPA and GGL.
"The membership structures of the two organisations are different, but the organisations are not philosophically opposed at all," Mr Birch said.
"I think Andrew's comments that GPA and GGL work together on big issues facing the industry reflect a very aligned sentiment from a GGL point of view."