Agriculture is a vital part of the State's economy and WA is well placed to meet the increased demand for food and fibre from the world's growing population, particularly China and India.
The Nationals WA in Government have already allocated over $600 million to agriculture projects - a record investment that shows our commitment to the sector.
This has gone towards supporting grower groups to increase productivity as well as develop supply chains and export markets; upgrading vital infrastructure; developing new courses and upgrading facilities at the Muresk Institute; creating the WA Worth Sharing brand; and developing WA's irrigated agriculture sector.
Now we are committing an additional $277 million to help the industry continue to grow.
Water for Food
Currently, there are 12 projects underway across the State from the Kimberley to the South West involved in the Water for Food program.
The Nationals are committing an additional $87 million to the Water for Food program to aid infrastructure, innovation grants and groundwater investigations, including:
- $37 million to address rising salinity levels at Wellington Dam and expand agricultural irrigation in the South-West.
- $20 million competitive grants program to drive investment in innovation water use for irrigated agriculture.
- $19 million to further develop an irrigation scheme around Manjimup and Pemberton.
- $11.5 million to undertake further ground water investigations.
Grower Group Grants
Royalties for Regions began funding Grower Group grants in 2015. We will expand the program to allow grower groups to continue to undertake research over the next four years.
Research is focused developing innovative solutions along supply and value chains so we can grow our share of international markets.
Lime Routes and Local Government Commodity Routes
The movement of lime for agricultural purposes across the Mid-West and Wheatbelt has more than doubled since 2010, putting additional pressure on our local road networks as they become key commodity routes.
The responsibility of these roads often falls on local government. The Nationals want to ensure we have safe and reliable road networks that can accommodate the size and number of these trucks on the road and are committing $15 million to high priority lime routes and $48 million towards key local government commodity routes.
Establishment of an Animal Research Institute for Western Australia
Growing consumer expectations coupled with international pressure means the market is changing and animal industries in WA are experiencing unprecedented interest, investment and growth. For WA to capitalise on the opportunities we must continue to be flexible and adaptable.
To achieve this The Nationals WA will commit $40 million of Royalties for Regions funding to establish an Animal Research Institute for Western Australia. The institute will look into new ways of management, coordinate an approach across the supply chain and support the industry prepare for its future.
Crop Innovation and Improvement Initiative
The Nationals want to assist West Australian farmers to have world first access to new drought-tolerant crops. The roadblock is the immense cost of bringing these new technologies to market.
We plan to deliver a $50 million Crop Innovation and Improvement Initiative, available to partner with public and private research organisations and assist WA's cropping productivity.
Muresk's enrollments have skyrocketed since 2013 and in 2016 there were 54 students enrolled in Bachelor of Agribusiness Management. Although the degree is still in its infancy it requires some assistance.
We have committed to delivering $2 million over four years to ensure a comprehensive communications and marketing strategy is implemented to attract students across the State to study agriculture.
Review of BAM Act
THe Biosecurity and Agricultural Management Act 2007 (BAM Act) is the principal legislation for the management of pests within Western Australia. However while the Act might work well in some areas of the State, the 'one size fits all' approach means another are not benefiting from the scheme.
The Nationals are committed to ensuring the BAM Acts is reviewed so it appropriately services all areas of the State. The review will:
- Determine the effectiveness of Regional Biosecurity Groups;
- Ensure all parties are shouldering the responsibility for pest management; and
- Review the funding model to provide certainty.
Multi-peril Crop Insurance
Cereal crops in Western Australia make a huge contribution to the STate's economy, with an export value of more than $3 billion a year. Multi-peril crop insurance (MPCI) is one tool that businesses can utilise to manage risk and offers protection against drought, excessive rainfall, frost, wind and pests, however, there is still a very low take up of MPCI.
Insurance duty (or stamp duty), calculated at 10 per cent of the policy's premium on MPCI has been cited by WA Farmers as one of the biggest barriers to taking advantage of their availability.
The Nationals WA propose, in order to increase the uptake of MPCI, that multi-peril crop insurance products be exempt of insurance duty for a period of three years. This trial will allow time for farmers to understand products, and whether it is appropriate for their circumstances.
For more detail on our commitments, read our full policy paper here.