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Agriculture, food security debate hots up
Agriculture, food security debate hots up

The future of the State’s agriculture and food industry was discussed recently at the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics and Sciences Regional Outlook conference in Margaret River.

WA Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) director general Rob Delane outlined Agrifood 2025+: the future WAy, an initiative to stimulate debate on the agriculture and food sector.

He said growing demand for food would come with increased climate volatility, more complex business relationships and structures in the agrifood sector and short-term global uncertainty.

A discussion on Agrifood 2025+: the future WAy was led by DAFWA’s director of Industry Economic Performance Michael Tindall, involving producers Phil Longmire of Coorong Pastoral, Margaret River Farm Shop owner David Hohnen and Sue Daubney, managing director of Northcliffe dairy Bannister Downs.

Three possible scenarios for future marketing opportunities were: as a commodity-based supplier (the Farm Tech WAy); a high-value niche product supplier (the Gourmet WAy); and a supplier of convenient packaged products (the Global Supermarket WAy).

Ms Daubney, just back from the Manjimup Shire Council’s trip to China, presented the possibilities of WA trade with China.

‘‘You’re not going to get premium prices through trade with China, which many expect.’’ she said.

‘‘You will match Perth market prices, but the size of the Chinese market means you can deal in much larger figures.

There is more work but it means you can deliver pallets to the dock instead of cartons.’’

Newton Brothers Orchard communications officer Lucinda Giblett said it was up to producers to provide answers.

‘‘We need to form links with our neighbouring regions, form partners in other ag industries, and then stand together and ask for what we need. That is what will make government sit up and listen,’’ she said.