Blayney happy to be back in ag sec­tor

Great Southern Herald - - News -

State Op­po­si­tion agri­cul­ture min­is­ter Ian Blayney faced a fierce fight in the re­cent State elec­tion, win­ning a third term in the seat of Ger­ald­ton by 1.3 per cent.

A for­mer farmer, Mr Blayney left the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try in 2009, after 25 years at his fam­ily’s 3800ha mixed farm­ing en­ter­prise near Ger­ald­ton.

Mr Blayney said his en­thu­si­asm for the in­dus­try had not waned and he still missed farm­ing.

He said there was still plenty of op­por­tu­nity in agri­cul­ture in WA but “it was rarely easy”.

“I know in this part of the world, they are wor­ried about rain, but longer term, it al­ways comes back to costs against re­turns,” he said.

“Farm­ing is re­lent­less.”

Mr Blayney, who was ap­pointed to the shadow role on March 30, said he was elated to again be in­volved with the sec­tor, tipped to peak at $63.8 bil­lion this year.

He is also shadow min­is­ter for fish­eries and forestry and pre­vi­ously served on pan­els at the Grains Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion and WAFarm­ers. A staunch sup­porter of plant biotech­nol­ogy, re­search and the po­ten­tial to grow med­i­cal cannabis crops in WA, Mr Blayney said the re­duc­tion in staff at the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Food WA when the Lib­er­als were in power had been up­set­ting.

“There didn’t seem to be a lot of pas­sion or re­spect for re­search,” he said. “We were talk­ing about agri­cul­ture tak­ing over as an em­ploy­ment stim­u­la­tor with the end of the min­ing boom, and at the same time cut­ting the guts out of our re­search ca­pac­ity.”

Pic­ture: Philip Clay­ton

Ian Blayney

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