For the first time since the harrowing days of the Depression more than 80 years ago, big parcels of WA agricultural land won't be farmed this season, the State's peak farming lobby group says.
WAFarmers president Dale Park said times were as tough as they had been in a long time for farmers across the Wheatbelt as they dealt with more debt, poor seasons and low morale.
"This is the first time since the 1930s that we'll have had country not farmed," he said.
"It's an indication that things are pretty tough. I'm not quite sure what we're looking forward to next year."
His comments came as about 300 frustrated Wheatbelt residents crowded into the Kulin recreation centre for a public meeting yesterday and hundreds more farmers plan to rally in Perth today as the sector faces its most difficult time in living memory.
The public meeting, one of several held in recent months across the eastern Wheatbelt, let residents share with local and State politicians their concerns and discuss the viability of farming.
Former WAFarmers president and Newdegate farmer Trevor De Landgrafft said crop mitigation, Tier 3 rail lines and education were the hot topics during the four-hour session. Concerns were also raised about how well farmers were being represented in State Parliament, he said.
Forrest Place will come alive today as country folk visit the city to raise the profile of agriculture and its importance in providing food security.
Farmer on Your Plate: Putting Agriculture Back on the Political Menu has been organised by a group of women who hope to increase awareness of the agricultural sector.
Harvey Fresh and Must chef Russell Blaikie have publicly backed the campaign, along with Slow Foods and the National Council of Women WA.
Kukerin farmer and organiser Mary Nenke said a petition with suggestions for reform would be presented to State and Federal governments.
"We want politicians to take advice from the real people on the land and in our cities," she said.