Hold back on help: farmers

Zoe KeenanMidwest Times

Farmers in the Mid West say there is no need for financial assistance right now.

Instead the focus should be on ensuring government restructuring did not affect delivery of current assistance.

Minister for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan visited the region recently for discussions with grain growers in order to understand what the Government could do to help.

“Farmers wouldn’t be expecting an income to come in until the end of the year, so it’s not as if we’ve got a crisis in the sense of a cash crisis yet,” Ms MacTiernan said.

North East Farming Futures chairman Jason Batten said opinions from farmers were that the financial effects would not be felt until the next financial year so the focus should be on keeping grower groups active and ensuring government funding did not affect this and other services.

“With current financial stress on the Budget at the moment it (Government) is saying it is going to cut down on funds for grower groups, which is what keeps them going,” he said.

“Also with the Government’s change of departments we don’t want to lose services like rural counselling and support.”

Mr Batten said if the farmers did not harvest this year there needed to be access to good-quality seed.

“At the moment then there’s got to be access to seed so that we have an opportunity to grow plants next season.

“You can recover quickly if you start the season well and don’t get too hung up on the doom and gloom because it can turn around quickly weather wise.”

Looking into the future Mr Batten believes financial assistance such as improved, tailored farming insurance will be beneficial, however, he doesn’t think it should be the current focus.

Member for the Agricultural Region Darren West said as well as providing farmers with ways to battle the emotional crisis he also wanted to look at how to mitigate risks in farming more efficiently.

“We’re going to sit down and do work with insurers, bankers, DAFWA, there’s new products becoming available, we want to work out how we can best work them into the farming system,” he said.

“There are products available where you can insure purely for frost damage or successive hot days or for prolonged periods of drought or rain events.

“The feedback from talks we’ve had with WA farmers is that traditional crop insurance products on offer aren’t that great.”

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