Lobby groups lock horns over APC Act

Lobby groups lock horns over APC Act

Politics
PGA president Tony Seabrook.

PGA president Tony Seabrook.

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The WAFarmers push for the term broadacre to be included under the Agriculture Produce Commission (APC) Act has been labelled a "furphy" by Pastoralist and Graziers Association (PGA) president Tony Seabrook,

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THE WAFarmers push for the term broadacre to be included under the Agriculture Produce Commission (APC) Act has been labelled a "furphy" by Pastoralist and Graziers Association (PGA) president Tony Seabrook, after a group of PGA members, who are also broadacre producers, were invited to meet with APC chairman Bill Ryan last Friday to gain a better understanding of the issue.

PGA president Tony Seabrook said they were pleased to hear directly from Mr Ryan that, "contrary to recent comments from WAFarmers chief executive offcer Trevor Whittington, the APC Fee For Service cannot be used as a funding source for a new State farming organisation".

"It is a complete furphy," Mr Seabrook said.

"We were also pleased to have clarified that under the act, 'a service to be provided which delivers an 'industry' good is not justification for a FFS'."

Mr Seabrook said his comments placed doubts over Mr Whittington's claims that a Fee For Service could be used to run campaigns supporting glyphosate, live sheep and cattle exports, or defending producers from animal activists.

"The PGA was told that there is no opt out provisions for existing producers under the current Act and that if the broadacre exemption is removed, that any opt out provision would only apply to the new producer committees and under their own separate regulations," he said.

"In our view, this will not only allow each new committee to determine whether the Fee For Service should be compulsory on all growers of that produce, but would also allow the government of the day to easily change it as is it not in legislation.

"Broadacre grains and livestock producers should be concerned that they are being sold a pup by WAFarmers on the merits of including their industries under the APC.

"All that will be accomplished is the imposition of just another unnecessary tax on producers for programs that are already being funded through our existing Federal and State levies, including Grains Research and Development Corporation, Meat and Livestock Australia, Australian Wool Innovation, and Industry Funding Schemes to name a few."

Mr Whittington responded by saying the PGA "have a knack for asking leading questions and hearing the answers that suit them".

He said as independent chairman of Wines of Western Australia, which generates $700,000 pa out of the APC fee system, "I can assure them that it does fund the administrative costs of the wines peak body just as it funds the costs of Veggies WA and various other peak bodies".

"So there is absolutely no reason why it can't fund the costs of administrating a farming association," Mr Whittington said.

"Another twist on words, the PGA have confused running one of their hard-hitting support live export campaigns, which we all remember made such an impact in the Farm Weekly last year, versus building the economic value of glyphosate or the science of live export stocking densities, or the merits of the skeleton weed levy.

"Very different things, but a good attempt to muddy the issue.

"The answer is yes to funding complex science and economic papers to build our case and no to funding political advertising campaigns like the PGA like to run.

"And the last bit they got right, the opt out clause is a key part of what we have asked the government for and we want it to be in the legislation not the regulations.

"An opt out clause will allow the PGA to not join other farmers across the State using the APC to fund the $1m needed in building the complex expensive policy cases governments to keep access to glyphosate leaving them to continue to prosecute their political cases via press releases and ads in the paper.

"The PGA have to be honest and accept it is not a tax, its not a compulsory fee, its not a new levy, they need to stop crying wolf.

"With the amendments it will be an opt out option to fund whatever growers want from marketing rangeland goats or building the economic case for another 100 mobile towers.

"It is nothing new, its been around 30 years, 12 ag sectors use it and only one organisation seems to not trust its growers to opt out."

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