Farmers give minister slap in face
Calingiri grain grower Ruth Young with Colin Barnett. Picture: Mogens Johansen. / The West Australian

The State's peak farm lobby group has delivered a slap in the face to the WA Nationals and Agriculture Minister Terry Redman in the countdown to the election.

WAFarmers released a campaign report card yesterday, putting the Liberal Party ahead of the Nationals on key agricultural policies.

The Liberals rated 8/10 compared with the Nationals' 6/10 while the ALP had three ticks compared with the Greens' four on the WAFarmers' 10-point wish list.

The assessment came after Premier Colin Barnett revealed a Liberal policy with funding promises of $43 million compared with $300 million of Nationals pledges.

Mr Redman, who is under pressure to hold Warren-Blackwood, said the assessment was disappointing and superficial. "I see it as a slap in the face," he said.

Mr Redman said the Liberal policy was "Nationals-lite". It largely mirrored the Nationals' policy but was not as comprehensive.

WAFarmers president Dale Park urged Mr Redman to clarify his position.

Mr Barnett said he would cut red tape for farmers and flagged easing restrictions on clearing land.

Conservation Council of WA director Piers Verstegen said any move to water down land-clearing laws could backfire on Mr Barnett.

He said relaxing State environmental laws might lead to more Federal Government intervention.

The Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance said it took no comfort from Mr Barnett's "wiggle room" pledge to keep open "commercially viable" sections of the Tier 3 grain freight lines.

Calingiri grain grower Ruth Young welcomed Mr Barnett's pledge to spend $20 million on research and development to improve farm productivity.

The West Australian

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