Agriculture low priority for Govt

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Jenne BrammerThe West Australian

Badgingarra farmer Geoff Teasdale believes the State Government is being reckless with the future of WA agriculture.

He said with the WA economy being so fragile amid the falling iron ore price, he was particularly alarmed the State Government was putting at risk a long-term sustainable industry on two fronts: through fracking and the use of GM crops.

"If we lose our groundwater through fracking, then this State's agricultural industry - the only long-term sustainable industry we have - is going to be in deep trouble," he said.

He also questioned how the Department of Mines and Petroleum could be considered independent in its role of granting approvals, given it was also charged with promoting these industries in WA.

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Mr Teasdale said he was pleased farmers and affected residents were putting up a fight; the most recent example being concerned residents recently declaring the Carnamah Shire to be a no-fracking zone.

He said the other issue concerning him was the use of GM crops.

Mr Teasdale is worried WA could end up like Canada which has widespread GM contamination throughout, meaning conventional canola is almost impossible to produce. He said he did not want to see WA farming coming under the control of multinational companies via the contracts that must be signed for GM seeds.

Mr Teasdale is also concerned the planned repeal of the GM Crops Free Areas Act 2003 could lead to the introduction of GM wheat, which he said would have a detrimental impact on wheat markets.

He said instead the State Government should be focusing on decentralising the population from Perth and revitalising the State's regional areas.

Mr Teasdale has been farming in Badgingarra since 1973.

After gradual clearing throughout the years, his property is now predominantly used for grazing.

Mr Teasdale grows hay, lupins and oats for feed, and plants about 80ha of barley each year for cashflow if it achieves malt grade.

He runs bout 120 Angus Murray Grey cross cattle and recently started joining these with Charolais bulls.

He also runs about 1800 Poll Merino breeding ewes, and says he is optimistic about the future of the wool industry.

His property had received about 52mm since the start of April.

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