Major primary industries boost to grow local regional jobs

Posted on February 19, 2021
  • Re-elected McGowan Labor Government to invest $72.7 million in agriculture and aquaculture
  • Initiatives to create up to 4,000 local jobs in the industries
  • $15 million Agriculture Climate Resilience Fund to help farmers manage impacts of climate change
  • $22 million to upgrade priority agricultural freight rail projects to boost productivity
  • $10.1 million industry partnership to double the value of WA’s oats industry

A re-elected McGowan Labor Government will deliver a $72 million to boost the State’s primary industries to support WA’s second biggest export industry and create up to 4,000 new local jobs across the State.

A new $15 million Agriculture Climate Resilience Fund will help WA farmers manage the serious threat of climate change as WA’s climate continues to heat and dry.

The Fund will deliver tailored solutions to support farmers to build soil carbon and to rehydrate landscapes, helping to keep farms productive while reducing the carbon footprint of agriculture.

It will focus on farm business resilience, drought research and adoption, rangelands restoration and on-farm desalination, delivering on-the-ground support for farmers and pastoralists across the State.

To help drive productivity in the agricultural sector, a re-elected McGowan Labor Government has committed $22 million towards upgrading four priority Tier 1 and 2 freight rail projects in Moora, Brookton, Broomehill and Cranbrook.

The priority projects, identified in the Revitalising Agricultural Region Freight Strategy, are anticipated to generate 1,030 jobs through construction.

As part of its commitment to supporting diversification in agriculture, the McGowan Labor Government will invest $10.1 million towards a Processed Oats Industry Growth Partnership to double the value of the oat grain industry in Western Australia over the next 20 years.

The Partnership will establish Australia’s leading oat breeding and genetics program based in WA, deliver a regional agronomy program across the State, and drive on-shore value adding of locally-grown oats.

WA Labor will also commit $3 million towards the Wine Industry Export Growth Partnership, to build international demand for WA’s high-quality wines.

The Partnership aims to boost WA’s wine exports to $117 million per year, targeting new markets in South East Asia, North America and the UK.

A $2.2 million allocation will progress the creation of a new aquaculture development zone for marine finfish or shellfish following extensive engagement or consultation with key stakeholders.

Existing finfish aquaculture development zones in the Kimberley and Mid-West are fully allocated, and applications for the Shellfish Albany Aquaculture Development Zone are oversubscribed.

Each additional 1,000 hectares of aquaculture zone is estimated to generate 16,000 tonnes of marine finfish, with an annual value of more than $160 million, and an additional 1,600 new jobs.  

The McGowan Labor Government will commit $2 million towards construction of an artificial shellfish reef in the Swan River, creating new opportunities for recreational fishing while improving biodiversity and water quality in the Swan.

A new $4.4 million Northern Native Seed Initiative will drive Aboriginal economic opportunities and jobs in the regions, capitalising on the growing need for mine site revegetation and rehabilitation across the State as well as developing native food production.

With more than 120,000ha of land requiring rehabilitation in the Pilbara alone, the initiative will support new businesses to harvest and propagate native seeds and plants, creating on-country jobs in the Pilbara and Kimberley.

The Food Industry Innovation Program will receive a $4 million funding boost, to continue to drive a job-creating value-adding and premium food processing industry in WA.

As previously announced, a re-elected McGowan Labor Government will invest $10 million to establish the Food Technology Facility at the Peel Business Park, putting the Peel region at the forefront of a job-creating value-adding industry.

Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:

“Our agriculture and aquaculture industries are at the heart of our regional communities, employing thousands of Western Australians and delivering almost $12 billion to our economy each year.

“Over the last four years we’ve delivered major investment into the primary industries, rebuilding the State’s agricultural research and development efforts.

“Our farmers are hard-working, innovative leaders in their field, and if re-elected, my government will continue to back their efforts.

“This investment will support our farmers to adapt and stay ahead of the game in a changing world.

“We will continue to drive development in our aquaculture industry, building on our government’s Aquaculture Development Plan to create around 6,000 new local jobs.”

Media contact: Mark Scott 0413 381 060

McGowan Labor Government’s record on primary industries

Under the previous Liberal National Government, core funding for the then-Department of Agriculture and Food WA was cut significantly with a further 37 per cent decrease in expenditure built in to the forward estimates.  

This resulted in a significant loss of agricultural capability threatening to further erode the department’s ability to deliver for the State’s agriculture sector.  

The McGowan Labor Government delivered record investment of $131.5 million in the 2019-20 Budget to secure the future of the State’s agricultural efforts.    

The McGowan Government has also delivered:

  • $24 million to drive value-adding in WA, including the $16.7 million four-year Food and Beverage Fund to create jobs and investment through grant funding to agrifood businesses to grow local processing;
  • $48 million grains research partnership signed with GRDC in 2019;
  • $22 million to manage impacts of wild dogs on livestock farmers, with a further $13.4 million locked in over the next four years;
  • $14 million for the Digital Farm Grants Program, driving better digital connectivity for agricultural and pastoral businesses and communities across regional Western Australia;
  • $8.1 million investment over four years to continue the successful eConnected Grainbelt program;   
  • $8.3 million over four years to grow the value of the northern beef industry through the Northern Beef Development program;
  • $6 million over four years to continue delivering the Food Industry Innovation program to support regional value-added food and beverage businesses and promote collaboration across the supply chain;  
  • $1.4 million to upgrade the Carnarvon Research Facility;
  • $1.8 million to upgrade the Merredin Dryland Research Institute;
  • Revitalising the Frank Wise Research Institute in Kununurra, including recruiting new senior scientists and investment in new research equipment;
  • $4.6 million to upgrade Albany and Geraldton Bureau of Meteorology to Doppler standard and complete WA’s Doppler network;
  • $2.8 million towards the Katanning Sheep Research Facility to support world class sheep research in WA;
  • Allowed carbon farming on the pastoral estate for the first time, and established the $15 million Carbon Farming Strategy and Land Restoration Fund to provide new income streams for farmers;
  • Re-established the Soil and Land Conservation Council after a 16-year hiatus;
  • Boosted funding for NRM projects to $7.75 million per annum;
  • $8.7 million for the construction and operation of a marine finfish nursery in Geraldton;
  • Progressed the establishment of aquaculture development zones near Albany and Esperance;
  • $1 million to upgrade the Watermans Bay Fish Health Laboratory to provide improved fish health research and development and support services.