AUS – PGA AWARD FOR GM FARMER
INDOMITABLE Kojonup farmer Michael Baxter has been crowned winner of the WA Pastoralists and Graziers Association’s (PGA) Achievement Award for 2014.
Mr Baxter received the prestigious prize at the PGA’s annual convention dinner at the Crown Perth Casino tonight before about 150 guests.
The award recognises the humble Kojonup farmer’s continuing legal battle against his neighbour Steve Marsh over genetically modified (GM) canola use and property rights.
In the decision handed down in late May, Justice Ken Martin comprehensively rejected Mr Marsh’s claim for $85,000 compensation and permanent injunction to stop his neighbour growing or swathing GM canola.
In June, Mr Marsh and his wife Sue announced they would appeal the decision, with the grounds for the appeal lodged on July 25.
The PGA grains committee backed Mr Baxter’s campaign from the outset, in line with its support for individual farmers being able to access profitable technologies.
In his presentation speech, PGA president Tony Seabrook described Mr Baxter as a strong supporter of new cropping technology. He said the Kojonup farmer “remains instrumental in championing the rights of farmers to grow legal and safe crops”.
“Nowhere was this more evident than during the recent Supreme Court of Western Australia case where an organic farmer in Kojonup tried to stop his neighbour from growing GM canola,” he said.
“Our winner played a pivotal role in this court case because he was the defendant. His unyielding determination to not back down to the bullying tactics and relentless persecution from anti-GM groups placed a heavy toll on his professional and personal life.
“Thanks to his efforts, growers in Western Australia are not restricted in the choice of what they grow and how they grow it.
“This attitude and sheer doggedness in the face of adversity, exemplifies the very foundations of what this Association stands for.”