FARM WEEKLY article by AIDAN SMITH
WAGG, which represents more than 100 farmers with a range of operations, has been actively defending the live sheep trade, saying the ramifications of a ban on the trade would be devastating to WA producers – whether they run sheep or not.
The group wants WA politicians to have more input in the media debate about live exports and to back the agricultural industry rather than “sitting on the fence”.
WAGG met with WA Liberal senator Dean Smith last week in Perth and discussed the flow-on effects of stopping the trade, including the possibility of lost grain markets for producers. Spokesman for the group, WAGG committee member and Yealering/Waroona mixed farmer Peter Stacey, said the meeting with Mr Smith was “surprisingly productive”.
He said the group was able to highlight the ramifications of any change to the industry.
Mr Stacey said he explained to Mr Smith the business model that was best for WA sheep producers, which included “domestic meat sales, wool and live exports”.
“If there is no live trade, then there is not going to be a sheep industry,” Mr Stacey said.
“The live export trade also supports the domestic price, this is what WA growers need.
“Growers need to make money not only from progeny, but from the ewe as well.”
The group explained the flow on effect of bans to the live export trade from personal experience.
“When the live cattle trade was stopped, the live sheep trade stopped for a short time as well, a farmer that had purchased grain could not pay for it because his sheep did not sell,” Mr Stacey said.
“He went broke and his farm was sold – he was only one of a large number of farmers that were affected.” Mr Stacey said he discussed “how events pan out in the ‘real world’ when it comes to export of live sheep or cattle from WA farmers”.
“This autumn on our property we had 1200 lambs in the feedlot,” he said.
WA Grains Group committee members Doug Clarke (left), Robert Doney, Debby Clarke, Peter and Jenny Stacey and Senator Dean Smith at his electoral office in West Perth last week.
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