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Regional Resilience food security and the future of the wheatbelt

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Scott Ludlam 14 Aug 2013

Western Australia’s rural communities are essential to our food security, economy, and cultural identity.

Many farmers and pastoralists are practising sustainable farming, but still face less predictable rainfall, poor returns and extreme weather events as a result of climate change. Around 11,000 people worked in agriculture in WA in 2009-2010. The 2011 – 2012 Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA ) records that Western Australian farm products generated around $5.9 billion revenue, or 11% of the State’s GDP. Eighty per cent of this produce was exported, including 97% of grain, 75% of livestock and 18% of horticultural produce. Seventy per cent of these exports go to Asia.

A combination of a drying climate and a series of poor seasons, rising costs of fuel and fertilisers, competition from imported produce, limited local markets, price pressures from the large supermarket chains and often having to compete in international markets is putting many farmers under significant financial pressure. The farming population in Western Australia is ageing with the median age now being 53. There is also a growing skill shortage with fewer young people choosing to stay in farming or related skill areas. In addition, mining and onshore gas extraction is threatening important agricultural areas, either directly or by damage to water sources. This has put additional strain on farming communities. Finally, the release into the environment of Genetically Modified (GM) crops has set farmer against farmer in legal challenges to protect the rights of Western Australia’s organic producers and other non-GM farmers.

WA needs a resilient agricultural sector that supports farmers to remain on the land and earn a healthy return on their produce. That’s why the Greens are campaigning for solutions that will help farmers adapt to climate change and continue to provide Western Australians and regional markets with a safe and reliable source of food.

See the full  initiative attached. 

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