The McGowan Government will invest $8.3 million over four years to drive a more profitable, resilient and diverse northern beef industry.
The funding will support productivity improvements across pastoral land and the northern cattle herd, and increase Aboriginal capacity and job opportunities.
Funding has been locked in ahead of this year’s Budget to allow critical work delivered through the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Northern Beef Development program to continue.
New projects include a grants scheme to increase the adoption of technology and innovation, and assistance for Aboriginal pastoral enterprises in assessing and transitioning to improved business models that attract investment and create job opportunities.
Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan announced the extension today at Skuthorpe in the Kimberley, where a $157,000 McGowan Government investment is supporting research into northern fodder crops.
The agronomy trials are examining production options, including fertiliser and water requirements, for efficient, sustainable and profitable irrigated agriculture production in WA’s northern rangelands.
Work has kicked off on local grower Graeme Roger’s Skuthorpe property, with a trial of 3.8 hectares of forage sorghum irrigated by the 88-metre centre pivot irrigator.
The sorghum crop will be harvested in July, after which a trial of 10 perennial grasses will commence.
The work builds on extensive mosaic agriculture investments in the north over the past two decades, which have assisted irrigated operations to expand to over 3,000 hectares in the West Kimberley and Pilbara.
As stated by Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
“The northern beef industry makes an enormous contribution to the regional economy, representing almost half of the WA beef herd and a production value of more than $250 million each year.
“This program aims to grow the future value of the industry, position the northern beef sector as a supplier of choice across diversified and high-value markets, demonstrate environmental sustainability, and create regional jobs.
“There are many facets – from herd genetics to fodder research and satellite imagery to improve grazing – that will be explored in driving efficiency and productivity of pastoral enterprises.
“The program recognises that much of the Aboriginal pastoral estate is significantly underdeveloped, with prospects for growth and job creation.
“We have listened to what the northern rangelands industry needs to go forward with irrigated agriculture and responded with the Skuthorpe project to refine production practices for perennial and annual fodder species under local conditions.
“Irrigated fodder production will help our northern beef industry to become more flexible, resilient, and to grow by providing a feed alternative that aids diversification and new market opportunities – all while providing a buffer from fire, floods and drought.”