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update Economic viability UPDATEAs we head into the silly season – on farm and off – we look forward to protecting our viability and increasing our export trade and local opportunities. Words Ross Anile, project officer TO all our members, may the festive season be full of enjoyment and memorable times spent with your loved ones. Please keep safe and healthy during this very hectic festive season, which is also our prime harvesting period. I remember the festive season was looked upon with great anticipation when we were on our family farm. At the same time, it was with a heavy heart. We knew the hard work awaiting us. However, no matter what, the harvest had to be brought in. There were no standard 9-5 working days. It was not unusual to work more than 12 hours per day, seven days a week. While the community respect farmers for their work in providing food security for the population, unfortunately that is not necessarily reflected in price. “ … producers have barely seen an increase in their market rates for the past 40 years… the income received is unsustainable, and many farmers are looking at the economic viability of their enterprises”This year we’ve seen inflation become a big issue, and what a rude shock that has been for everyone! The price of food has not only risen, but the cost of farming that food for the community’s tables has also increased dramatically. However, producers have barely seen an increase in their market rates for the past 40 years. This increasing gap between the actual cost of farming and the income received is unsustainable, and many farmers are looking at the economic viability of their enterprises.We urge government and industry partners to work closely with farming groups to secure financial sustainability and longevity of our state’s food security. This is very important when our country’s geographical and manufacturing isolation may again be tested due to ongoing international disputes. We need to support our growers and our supply chain, by buying local and paying a fair price. This will ensure our ongoing food security and sustainability. Australian Federal Biosecurity Protection Levy From July 1, 2024, primary producers will contribute to the cost of Australian Government biosecurity activities with a new Biosecurity Protection Levy. The proposed levy aims to collect around $50 million per year, which is about six per cent of the Commonwealth’s biosecurity funding requirement for 2024-25. How these funds will be governed and distributed for purpose is still to be finalised. I have provided ideas via their online survey. Fresh Fruit Program for Students Published on the Fresh Plaza website was a story on the Pennsylvanian (US) education department. It initiated a $7.5 million grant for fruit and vegetables to be distributed to schools and students for free. The comment was: “… in order to learn, grow and achieve, children need access to healthy food options”. This is a fantastic initiative I believe should be embraced and financed by the WA Education and Health departments for our public school system from north to south. International Markets The question of international trade initiatives is always a discussion point with growers. Encouragingly, there is a great deal of effort being put in by Hort Australia and DPIRD to develop new markets: • Indonesia Our WA Premier, the Hon Rodger Cook MLA, with the assistance of DPIRD, took a delegation to Indonesia recently to meet with industry leaders to generate interest. • Vietnam The Vietnam economy is thriving and has come out of the pandemic strongly. It is a large market, of more than 100 million people with an ever-increasing middle class. • India This country’s population may soon surpass China, so it is therefore a market that will require some effort to develop. Once relationships have been put into place, I envisage a positive future. • The Middle East Hort Australia has the Middle East on its radar as a future upcoming market. This is a market that we should seriously consider given we are perfectly located geographically and the substantial disposable income for this region amongst the middle and upper class. While it is exciting to investigate and enter new emerging markets, it is important to be vigilant and continue to develop relationships with existing trade partners. RegenWA I want to introduce you to RegenWA. This project supports WA farmers to implement and share evidence-based regenerative practices that help restore the beneficial natural assets (the ‘natural capital’) on the farms on which our food systems depend. Established by Perth NRM and with a farmer-led steering committee, RegenWA is a community of like-minded farmers and interested stakeholders. It provides opportunities to learn and share knowledge and skills at field days, workshops and webinars, plus website resources and regular informative newsletters. Farmers in WA are increasingly faced with challenges, including rising costs, which is why it is so important to support innovative farmers to identify and share practices that help restore the inherent productive capacity of the land and reduce dependence on inputs. RegenWA aims to broaden the uptake of sustainable land management practices and create a future that everyone can be proud to pass on to the next generation. Recently, it produced three Innovations in Agriculture videos with Landcare Australia to showcase landholders who are adopting regenerative principles to their farming practices. These videos and more informatin on regen practices can be viewed at regenwa.com. Congratulations WAHU Congratulations to the working committee and DPIRD management and staff on hosting WAHU 2023. It was my first attendance and I was pleasantly surprised. The Stonefruit and RegenWA display was popular with delegates who tasted our WA stonefruit. I would like to thank my Regen partners, Tibby (pictured) and Jess for their assistance during the event. And many thanks to the Del Simone family from Springhill Orchards and the Fiolo family of Karragullen Fruit Company for supplying the quality stonefruit for the event.