Regions rising as ag shows its value for state

Regions rising as ag shows its value for state

Politics
STRONG SHOOTS: Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham said there were a lot of opportunities coming up in 2021, particularly given the resurgence of regional SA.

STRONG SHOOTS: Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham said there were a lot of opportunities coming up in 2021, particularly given the resurgence of regional SA.

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WHILE 2020 had its challenges, there was also a lot to celebrate, according to Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham, with work expected to continue into 2021.

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WHILE 2020 had its challenges, there was also a lot to celebrate, according to Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham, with work expected to continue into 2021.

Among the highlights, he listed the support provided to those impacted by bushfires at the start of 2020, particularly those on Kangaroo Island and the Adelaide Hills.

"Fires have been a big challenge, as well as drought," he said.

"They're two things we face regularly in SA and we know we have to deal with them to a certain extent, but every drought and every fire is different.

"Really the only way to fix drought is for it to rain and thankfully we've seen good falls in areas across SA."

He was also proud of the work done in progressing the marine scale fishing reform.

Mr Basham said there were several achievements in 2020 that would flow on to 2021.

"A really big one for grains industry and in fact, other ag industries, is getting the genetically-modified crop moratorium lifted," he said.

"That's going to give lots of options going forward and we will see that developing in that space in coming years, with different crop varieties and in pastures and fruit."

Mr Basham said the use of GM technology could lead to varieties that require less insecticides, pesticides and other chemicals to grow.

While COVID-19 has created some challenges, including in international markets, Mr Basham said it had also shown the importance of agriculture to the economy.

"Ag, as always, has been the supporter of the state," he said.

"I'm very proud of what got done and the support industry had during what was a changing environment."

He said market access was likely to continue to be a problem in the coming months, with strategies being put in place.

"It's a very difficult thing for many people that rely on markets that are compromised through COVID or other means," he said.

He said the government was maintaining good communication and working with all its markets and would also continue to provide support to producers where it could.

But he said a positive to take away from the past few months of restrictions was the resurgence of regional SA, particularly when it came to tourism numbers.

He said the attention being paid to regional SA was a great opportunity for these locations to market themselves and their products - be it food, wine or other regional products, such as leather goods - going forward.

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He said it was not just visitors noticing the appeal of the regions.

"Regions, including the South Coast and Murray Bridge, are all talking about lack of rental accommodation and number of homes building going on," he said. "It's the highest in living memory.

"People see the importance of regions and we've seen a move of people back to regions too."

He said 2021 would likely be a "recovery year", with much unknown, such as how the new United States' president would impact Australia, as well as new trade deals needed with the European Union and the United Kingdom, but he said there would also be opportunities.

Looking ahead, Mr Basham said his goals were to have the updated Pastoral Act in place, some 30 years after the last iteration, with consultation on the draft continuing with key groups.

Also on the agenda was the roll out of the AgTech strategy.

"One key thing we want to see is the great upskilling of new technology by primary producers," he said.

"It's very important to take the opportunity to see that new tech in use through the demonstration farms and government is working with industry on that."

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