MARKET access, drought resilience, climate change and biosecurity have been highlighted by SA graingrowers as the top policy issues affecting profitability and productivity, according to a recent Grain Producers SA Grower Priorities Survey.
GPSA undertook the survey to help shape its 2022 State Election Priorities and is seeking all political parties and candidates to commit to the initiatives the grain sector has put forward as part of the 2022 State Election.
GPSA chief executive officer Brad Perry said they have "outlined the levers that need to be pulled to deliver industry growth".
"With the Grain Industry Blueprint setting the target for a $6 billion contribution to the state's gross food revenue by 2030, our graingrowers need the backing of all levels of government to reach that goal," he said.
"GPSA's 2022 State Election Priorities document outlines a number of important projects to create new international and domestic market opportunities, invest in research and development, provide greater connectivity, protect the state's graingrowers against pests and diseases and build and train a labour workforce to meet demand."
Some of the key project requests include a $10 million Grain Growth Program; $4.2m for a sustainable weather station network; $6m grain export and market entry program; $20m agricultural mobile blackspot funding round; $250,000 for subsidised PPE equipment packs for farm firefighter units; $700,000 for a new agricultural bag recycling program; introduction into SA Parliament of a new Biosecurity Act; four-year maintenance fund to address the state's road maintenance backlog; and $4m for retraining into agriculture initiative.
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GPSA also held pre-election forums in the electorates of Chaffey, Flinders and Narungga this past week to hear "more from candidates about their support for measures to drive growth in the SA grain industry".
Mr Perry said the forums also gave graingrowers, and their communities, the opportunity to ask about issues important to them.
In Loxton on Wednesday last week, a cross section of issues were raised at the Chaffey forum, with Liberal candidate Tim Whetstone, The Nationals' Damien Buijs and The Greens' Trevor Schloithe debating topics ranging from road maintenance, weather stations, drought resilience, health and workforce challenges.
"Riverland and Mallee growers are exceptional at farming in what is a low rainfall area and they need the right policy settings in place to help their businesses grow and adapt to the challenges before them," Mr Perry said.
A GPSA phone poll undertaken prior to the Chaffey event showed Mr Whetstone was leading the first preference votes with 36.7pc, with Labor in second on 23pc.
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A Flinders pre-election forum was also held in Cummins on Monday last week, with The Nationals' Lillian Poynter, Independent Liz Habermann and Liberal Sam Telfer in attendance.
Mr Perry said the first forum was very successful "with an engaged audience in attendance".
"GPSA's first State Election Forum was hailed a success with three candidates attending to provide their reasons why graingrowers and the community should vote for them," he said.
"There was a raft of issues raised from road funding, loss of rail and adaption to climate to challenges around planning development on farming land, connectivity, land use conflict and health care.
"We had very positive feedback about the forum from those in attendance on the night and also people who tuned in live via GPSA's Facebook page."
On a two party preferred basis, a GPSA phone poll found Mr Telfer leading on 63pc of locals surveyed, while Labor was in second on 37pc.
The final pre-election election forum for the seat of Narungga was held in Maitland on March 6, where a pre-forum poll showed on a two party preferred basis, Fraser Ellis was in the lead on 62pc, while Tom Michael was in second on 38pc.
Mr Perry said the Maitland forum was well attended and a variety of questions came from the audience, ranging from issues in the grain sector to health and tourism.
"Land access and farming into the future were key topics of discussion, as well as returning speed limits from 100 kilometres per hour to 110km/hr to create greater efficiency for the freight sector carting grain and other commodities," he said.
"The Narungga State Election Forum was the final of three held by GPSA in grain-growing regions in the lead-up to voters going to the polls on March 19.
"With strong numbers of graingrowers and community members attending the three forums, we had very positive feedback from all involved about giving graingrowers the opportunity to ask political candidates about issues important to them."
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