Farmers celebrate win as regions lose cash

Peter WilliamsThe West Australian
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Nationals leader Brendon Grylls has had a win in getting farmers $300 million in new agricultural funding but had to relinquish half a billion dollars from his Royalties for Regions war chest.

The Regional Development Minister has also moved to close a country local government fund which attracted controversy by bankrolling such projects as a plastic cows exhibition in Margaret River, and recreational and entertainment facilities elsewhere.

The Seizing the Opportunity in Agriculture package will see $297.5 million spent over four years in such areas as research and develop- ment, land and water, and infrastructure.

Only $16 million will be spent this financial year.

Mr Grylls said the money would help develop opportunities in the agricultural sector and capitalise on growing Asian demand for food.

While the Nationals went to the March State election pledging to spend an extra $300 million on farming, their Liberal partners in Government promised only $43 million.

Mr Grylls said it had been his call to give up $536 million of Royalties for Regions across four years to areas previously funded by consolidated revenue in order to protect the State's AAA-credit rating.

WAFarmers president Dale Park welcomed the $300 million commitment.

He called on the Government to consult across all agricultural industries.

"That way, West Australian farmers can be confident there is a solid strategy in place to deliver the funding announced," he said.

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