Western Australia Minister for Agriculture and Food Terry Redman
State Budget 2010-11: Investment In Agriculture Increased
Victor P Taffa
The State Government has increased its investment in Western Australia’s agriculture and food sector to $176 Million in the 2010-11 State Budget to improve key service delivery compared to last year’s Budget of $164 Million.
Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman said the Liberal-National Government had boosted its funding commitment to the sector by more than 10 % over the past two years, recognising its vital contribution to the State’s economy.
Mr. Redman said the investment would enable the Department of Agriculture and Food to refocus its efforts on economic development and enhancing the profitability of the sector.
“This approach will see significant change in the role of Government and an improvement in our return on investment.” the Minister said.
“I want to achieve a greater impact with the use of Government investment to modernise agriculture through a focus on innovation, new technology application and systems. The needs of industry have changed and therefore the focus and capability of the Department of Agriculture and Food will also need to change.” Mr. Redman said.
The department’s refocusing will be supported by the creation and renewal of key infrastructure. The State Government has supported reinvesting funds from the sale of department assets, which are no longer required, back into agriculture and food.
The Government’s program of modernising agriculture will require the recruitment of new skills and capabilities.
The department will maintain a significant innovation program supported by estimated partnership funding of $40.3 Million from the Federal Government and $41.4 Million from external research corporations and industry groups.
The State Government will invest $30 Million over three years to construct a world-class export grains research centre at Murdoch, which is expected to assist in leveraging significant other investment.
This will be further complemented by the initiative ‘New Crops for New Climate Environments’ to develop and adopt genetically modified technology into WA farming systems. The project will include government investment of $9.05 Million over four years, including $3 Million towards infrastructure in Merredin and Katanning to evaluate the use of GM crops in varying climates.
A total of $13.1 Million has been allocated over the next four years for new agriculture and food initiatives which meet the economic development priority including:
- $3.6 Million for the ‘Bridging the Yield Gap’ grains project to provide growers with information and solutions to boost grain yields and deliver an extra two million tonnes in higher rainfall areas;
- $3.2 Million to improve the department’s innovation and economic analysis capability to support and increase the impact of local, national and international innovations on the value of agriculture and food businesses;
- $2.2 Million for the Market Access project to underpin export gains for the industry by improving market access opportunities for new products and safe export to meet market requirements;
- $600,000 for the WA Beef Stocktake response incorporating projects to improve supply chain linkages, target market specification, reduce seasonality of supply, provide supply chain data and benchmarking, and improve processing efficiency;
- $3.5 Million to significantly increase the economic contribution of agriculture in the North of WA.
The State Government has maintained its commitment to biosecurity with an allocation of $37 Million. Included in this commitment is $4.8 Million in new funding for wild dog management and upgrading the State Barrier Fence.
$20 Million, which includes $5 Million in new funding, will be allocated for the State’s Natural Resource Management program in 2010-11 to ensure a sustainable resource base for the future. An additional $30 Million has been allocated over the three years commencing 2011-12 for priority NRM activities. The State Government has also contributed $5 Million to a new joint pilot program with the Federal Government to trial a new approach to drought assistance.
Delivering critical information to producers when they want and how they want it will form a key component of new investment in modernising the department’s information delivery systems.
$39 Million will be provided over four years to upgrade the department’s web and information communication technologies to improve staff efficiencies and community access. In 2010-11 this will involve redesigning communications systems to ensure the responsiveness of department services to producers is of the highest standard.