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WA election: grains institute and MPCI needed to bolster industry

The WA grains industry would be further strengthened by the establishment of a grains research and development institute, and government support of Multi Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) policies, according to WAFarmers.

The two issues form part of the WAFarmers Policy Platform nine-point Wish List for the upcoming State Election.

WAFarmers President Tony York said a grains institute would attract external, world-class research partners and projects into WA, giving the state a home-ground advantage for research outcomes.

“WAFarmers, in conjunction with a number of grains industry and research organisations in WA through the Grains Industry Group, has been unanimous in their support for the development of a grains research and development institute,” Mr York said.

“Given the recent announcement by the current State Government of $54.4 million for grains research and development until 2020, the next phase in implementation is to establish an advisory council or interim board to further develop and implement a business case.

“The institute model would be future proofed, and independent of bureaucratic factors that most government departments must function within - staff hiring freezes, budget cuts, and policy changes - to ensure that grains research in WA is stable and vibrant into the future.”

Mr York said State Government support for MPCI policies by way of rebates for a three-year period would also support the industry long term, given the state only currently receives duty on a low number of active policies, which approximates to about 10 in number.

“Agricultural businesses are vulnerable to the effects of weather; during times of hardship any enterprise can be crippled, so WAFarmers has been a keen advocate for the uptake of MPCI policies in WA,” he said.

“Should a farmer’s crop be affected by severe weather, the flow-on effects are keenly felt by the entire supply chain, local businesses and community, as the farmer reduces local spending and relocates to a city or larger town, never to return.

“For policies to become cheaper, the market needs to be stimulated so the under-writers can spread the risk across a larger number of policies.

“By fostering the uptake of the policies across the agricultural region, it reduces the reliance on concessional loans and leaves public funds available for better use, creating another revenue stream for the state by having it collect duties from a larger number of MPCI policies once the three-year concession period has concluded.

“Given WA grain exports about 80 per cent of its annual grain production to more than 50 countries worldwide, and that the exports generate more than $4 billion (five year average) for the state economy each year, it is critical that the state capitalises on this enviable position and makes changes to strengthen this ever-growing industry."

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