2018 in review: From the Minister for Regional Development; and Agriculture and Food
This year has been a rollercoaster of expectations for growers: full of promise and some disappointments.
Early predictions of a bumper crop were scaled back due to frost and a poor September – then followed by good October rain, then late storms and hail.
There have been challenges for the sheep industry and we remain absolutely committed to working with producers to build resilience right across the supply chain. Prices for wool and meat remain strong, which should give growers confidence that this industry has a bright future.
Two McGowan Government initiatives in the past few weeks should add some Christmas cheer for our hard-at-work farmers:
- Changes to transfer duty laws have been introduced to Parliament, which will provide exemptions for the progressive transfer of a farm from one family member to another – allowing better succession planning
- We’ve given farmers the right of veto over fracking production on their land.
And there is a lot more to celebrate, with our government working hard this year to deliver for farmers.
We’ve taken the first steps towards rebuilding the research and development capacity of the Department.
Our Budget included a new $24 million investment in grains R&D, to help keep our agricultural sector at the cutting edge of the global market.
In May, we opened the new $11.5 million Northam Grains Research Facility, a state-of-the-art facility for grains R&D.
We saw the benefits of long-term investment in government R&D earlier this year, with the launch of the new pasture Lanza tedera.
Tedera is underpinned by more than a decade of agronomic and livestock grazing research by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, and can provide WA sheep producers with an edge to maintain stock during low rainfall years, as well as target out of season market opportunities.
We’ve started the rollout of digital infrastructure to help farmers access 21st century technologies: our $5 million Digital Farm program is bringing enterprise-grade broadband to more than 1400 farmers from the Kimberley to the Great Southern. Our Grainbelt Digital Enhancement project – which will provide more than $15 million for backhaul in the grainbelt – has been out for Expressions of Interest. More to come in 2019.
We’re investing in our high-value horticulture: our government secured Federal funding for the Myalup-Wellington project, reducing salinity in the Wellington Dam and securing the future for horticulture growers in the region. We’ve also committed $5 million to the Myalup Primary Industries Reserve, to develop 500ha of new horticultural land in Myalup.
Our record investment in wild dog action is taking shape: work is underway on cell fences in the Murchison and we’ve completed 88km of repairs and maintenance on the State Barrier Fence, with more to come over the next few months.
Last month the EPA recommended approvals of the SBF Esperance extension. Some appeals have been lodged and we will need to wait for the Appeals Convenor to review these, but we are working hard to get this project underway in the new year.
Our government this year opened a pathway for pastoralists to earn Federal dollars for carbon farming project, which had never been possible in this State.
Fifteen projects were successful in the Clean Energy Regulator June 2018 auction, equating to around $47 million of funds flowing to pastoral projects in the southern rangelands. We’re confident of a similar level of uptake in the November auction, and are aiming for final consent determinations by April 2019.
Our $5.9 million Transforming Agriculture in the Pilbara project is well underway: soil and water research is continuing, and earlier this month, we launched a trial of high-value horticulture in Newman.
This year marked an important step for modernising animal welfare in this State. We amended the Animal Welfare Act to bring national standards on animal welfare into regulation, putting WA in line with other states and territories. We look forward to consulting with industry and a credible compliance regime in 2019.
Our very best Christmas wishes for you and your family – we look forward to working with you all in 2019.