Ag minister visits SW to talk strategy

Chloerissa EadieSouth Western Times
Agriculture Minister Mark Lewis.
Camera IconAgriculture Minister Mark Lewis. Credit: Agriculture Minister Mark Lewis. Picture: Jo Fulwood, Jo Fulwood

After three months in the role, Agriculture Minister Mark Lewis visited the South West last week, in an effort to hear farmers’ concerns ahead of the State election in less than two months.

Liberal candidate for Collie-Preston Elysia Harverson organised the visit after spending the past few months on the ground hearing farmers’ concerns.

She said some of the issues raised included biosecurity, the Boyanup Saleyards and feral animals.

“It was good for farmers to see there is someone in the role as minister who can speak their lingo as he comes from a farming background,” Ms Harverson said.

“He is only three months in the role and already heard some important concerns from farmers in the South West.”

Capel shire president Murray Scott said his main concern was the Boyanup Saleyards because there had been no solid plan for what would happen after the lease expired in 2022.

He was impressed by Mr Lewis and said “he is a straight, sharp shooter”.

“I made sure he hadn’t gone to sleep on the saleyard issue as we need to see some money before the lease runs out,” Mr Scott said.

“Biodiversity was also brought up and the feral animals are getting worse so that was spoken about too.

“He (Mr Lewis) can’t see any more jobs in the Ag Department going so that was a good thing as well.”

Mr Lewis said the South West agricultural industry was a major economic driver.

“The food component of the South West is something which has forgotten value and we want to see a strategic framework in place to value add to better what we do,” he said.

Mr Lewis said the Government was working on a plan to replace the Boyanup Saleyards and a meat industry precinct was an option being discussed.

He said the Government was working towards identifying the best spot for the saleyards in the South West, with co-investment and the broader approach of an industrial agricultural precinct under consideration.

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