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Putting rural SA back on the map
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The South Australian Farmers’ Federation (SAFF) is calling on whichever party wins Government on March 18 to boost its commitment to the bush by establishing a dedicated Office for the Rural Economy to develop a holistic approach to growing the economic, social and environmental potential of rural and regional South Australia.
SAFF general manager Carol Vincent said while critics of this idea might say it could create unwieldy bureaucracy, she argued that the “right hand knowing what the left hand was doing might not be such as bad idea”.
“If the incoming government wants to pay more than just lip-service to triple bottom line outcomes, then we need triple bottom line structures in which departments such as environment work intimately with primary industries and transport to deliver a plan for growing the rural economy.”
Ms Vincent said the new office would have to “go above and beyond” the work done by the Office of Regional Affairs and the 13 regional development boards that operate across the State.
“SAFF is not criticising the work of the office or the regional development boards. We just believe that rural SA needs to be put on the map and recognised as a major contributor to this State, not just recognised in regional isolation,” she said.
”That means governments putting their money where their mouth is.”
SAFF Acting President Jeff Klitscher said that under the Federation’s concept, an Office for the Rural Economy would develop an innate understanding of the unique challenges and pressures faced by rural communities and agricultural industries, and be ideally placed to find solutions and achieve results.
“One of the first things we’d like such an office to examine is the crippling red tape that primary producers have to work with everyday. We would expect a key charter of the office to be eliminating these impediments to profitability,” Mr Klitscher said.
“Agricultural industries form a big part of the export backbone of our State and they demand the same serious attention that the mining and the car industries get.
“This sector will be expected to play an integral part if we are to meet the State’s export target of $25 billion by 2013.
“And primary production is a core element to the State Food Plan, which aims to increase the value of the local food industry to $15 billion by 2010.”
Mr Klitscher said the potential export opportunities for South Australian agriculture were enormous.