AN interim committee has been formed in the Southern Rangelands to establish a new grower group for the region, with a specific focus on projects to enhance future pastoralism, as well as revitalisation of the rangelands.
Debbie Dowden, Challa station, said about 130 people turned up for the Pastoral Roundtable held at the Mount Magnet Racecourse recently, hosted by the Rangelands Fibre and Produce Association, a small group from the region.
They came from as far away as the Goldfields and Carnarvon - with some "heavy hitters" from Perth.
Ms Dowden, the Rangelands Fibre and Produce Association's secretary, said an attendee at the roundtable remarked that it was "history in the making for the Southern Rangelands" and a turning point for the region.
She said setting up a grower group, that covered the whole of the Southern Rangelands, would allow pastoralists in the region to employ an executive officer who could handle all the office and paperwork required to attract funding for projects, as well as building the capacity of the new grower group.
The interim committee, which has been about 12 months in the making, is made up of Liam Johns, Gemma Cripps, Tom Foulkes-Taylor, Phil Lowe (who has been instrumental in helping five groups become established), Ms Dowden, David Hammarquist, Trevor Hodshon and Jim Quadrio, all from the Southern Rangelands.
Ms Dowden said the committee would decide the chairperson and other office bearers when they meet in coming weeks.
"It was a really successful day," Ms Dowden said.
"The vote to form the committee was unanimous.
"There is a great positive feeling about the future of the Southern Rangelands.
"The minister is very supportive of us forming the grower group."
Ms Dowden said pastoralists already had some project ideas on the drawing board but they were on hold until the group was officially formed and operational.
"There are very interesting people doing some exciting things in the rangelands and this would be a way to share that," Ms Dowden said.
Attending the roundtable discussion was WA Agriculture and Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan, who said a project would get underway in the region involving 10 pastoralists.