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Chance hits back at weed claims

AGRICULTURE Minister Kim Chance has hit back at claims that he has gone soft on skeleton weed.

Mr Chance said it was not his intention, or that of the Agriculture Protection Board or the Department of Agriculture, to give up on trying to minimise the spread and impact of the weed.

WAFarmers said the recent skeleton weed review supported giving up on eradicating the weed.

It also called for a skeleton weed eradication board to be created to handle farmer funds raised through a levy to pay for the eradication of the weed.

Farmers pay a 35 cent per tonne of grain harvested levy.

Mr Chance said there were tight legal constraints on the use of graingrowers’ funds against skeleton weed under the Plant Pests and Diseases (Eradication Funds) Act.

“To continue collecting industry funds other than as provided under the legislation would place the APB and the Government in breach of the legislation,” he said.

“Proposed legislative changes will be implemented at the first available opportunity to increase graingrower involvement in decision-making regarding the funding and management of industry-funded programs such as skeleton weed.”

WAFarmers president Colin Nicholl said the new legislation would be welcome, but that it would still be some time away.

“We wanted a separate body to set up an authority that would manage skeleton weed eradication,” he said.

“The minister has said he can’t give us an authority, but he can give us a committee.

“Unfortunately, this committee will be appointed by the APB. We want farmers to be controlling it.”

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