2021 – Playing our part in an evolving agricultural industry
The WMG recognises many of the challenges that are faced by our region’s farmers in the next decade. The development of frameworks, strategies, and goals across industries to guide industries to a future in 2030 that achieves triple bottom line sustainability – economic, environmental, and social sustainability. They give a signal of where we likely need to be in 2030 to be competitive in the world market. These frameworks aim to mitigate the future threats of a variable climate, ethical farm production, maintaining profitability to be competitive in a global market in 2030.
In the wake of the disruption caused by COVID-19, the world could potentially be moving away from globalisation, where interests are aligned with creating wealth, towards a world based on shared values. This approach is likely to change the way global organisations, and even countries, align themselves within the world and who they work with.
As these frameworks become widely adopted and used by industry, the WMG will be working to ensure that information delivered will allow our members to exceed the sustainability indicators in these frameworks. In 2030, these sustainability frameworks and indicators will not pose a threat to WMG members as we will have surpassed them by doing what we do best – working together to create a sustainable and connected farming community.
2018 – Sharpening our Focus
The group has focussed strongly since 2018 on developing capacity in the organisation to be able to support our diverse regional community. The research and development team produce high quality data from locally run trials and demonstrations to support members decision-making processes. The extension arm of WMG has refined the delivery of events and direct engagement with growers to assist with the adoption of new technology and practices. The WMG has taken the lead among other grower groups in delivering industry-based projects that deliver regional and state-based outcomes.
A strong emphasis on communicating what we do has underpinned the development of a communications platform that delivers on our mission of timely and relevant information to support the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of our members. This includes active print, social media, monthly e-newsletters, the WMG Quarterly technical newsletter, and knowledge hub website to hold information for the future needs of the farming community in the region.
The WMG aims to be an agile and dynamic grower group that can support our region’s sustainable and connected farming community into the future.
2016 - Supporting our Region
From 2016 onwards, the group has broadened its focus to supporting the needs and development of the region, which is interchangeably known as the West Midlands or the Northern Valleys region. The groups’ strategic plan was broadened as a result and the vision is to support a sustainable and connected farming community. The West Midlands Group engages with around 80 farming business members in the Shires of Dandaragan, Coorow, Gingin, and Moora. Our regular communications are delivered to around 350 farm business owners, managers, workers, and family members as well as our sponsors, research partners, and industry stakeholders who follow what we do.
2010 – Growth to meet our members' needs
The activities of the period between 2010 and 2018 were largely focussed on finding solutions for the largest natural resource and production issue of the region – the presence of soil water repellence. This was reducing crop and pasture production by causing uneven germination and growth and was steadily increasing its effect across the region. Through leading on-farm research and demonstrations in the region in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD, formerly DAFWA), successful strategies such as mouldboard ploughing and spading were identified to reduce the impact of this issue. At this peak in innovation, there were 120 businesses as members of the group that were actively involved in this quest to solve this significant production issue.
During this time, the diversity and potential of the region was also becoming clear the group. Access to water for irrigation was supporting the diversification of many farms to widen production to include cropping, sheep, cattle, potatoes, citrus, mango, carrot, garlic, and loose-leaf vegetable production. The region also has many organic, biodynamic, and regenerative agriculture focussed producers as well as several branded products coming from the region.
2003 - Our Origins
West Midlands Group started life in 2003 as the West Midlands Natural Resource Group after several Land Conservation District Committees (LCDC) in the region amalgamated. The focus in the early days was on supporting landholders to manage and protect the on-farm natural resources of the region, and much of the focus was on the protection of waterways through revegetation and the control of the invasive weed, spiny rush.
In 2008, the group identified that there were broader on-farm natural resource issues that were affecting production, and this led to the group pivoting its focus towards agricultural research, development and extension. This led to the formation of the West Midlands Group (WMG) as it is now known today to join the 44 other grower groups across the region.