WAFarmers stands behind the export industry, but will not condone the activities and systems that led to the death of large numbers of sheep on a delivery voyage to the Middle East in 2017.
The ability to export live animals from Western Australia is of critical importance in the Western Australian farming economy. It enables large numbers of high quality animals to be sold for prices that allow a long term, sustainable and healthy production model. Whilst areas of society will say the live export business is not critical to the health of the rural economy, in Western Australia this is not the case.
The Western Australian marketplace is unique in its use and dependency on the live trade. The Western Australian live trade makes up somewhere around 75 per cent of the live export trade from Australia including approximately 1.4 million head of sheep annually. This market has a vital effect of the overall industry for WA. Whether we are considering sheer numbers of traded sheep or the scenario where the live export trade puts a commercially sustainable price base in the whole market for Western Australia, the importance of live export is unmistakable.
Western Australia produces approximately 4 million lambs every year. And whilst Western Australia loves a lamb chop or a Sunday lamb roast, our population would not sustain a viable local market for that volume of sheep. The fact that we have a strong off shore trade market has come from years of work by associations, partnership and individuals to extol the virtues of our Australian, and particularly Western Australian production systems and produce.
WAFarmers Livestock President David Slade has indicated strong industry support for the announced review into the live export industry following the deaths of a number of sheep in a live export shipment in 2017.
“We feel that this enquiry is strongly justified after the release of footage by Animals Australia and 60 Minutes over the weekend,” he said.
“Any farmer or grazier would be sickened, saddened and angered to think that animals they have worked so hard to breed and raise would perish in a manner such as this.
“If the managing bodies of the export process cannot ensure animal welfare standards are maintained or expected, they need to show cause as to why they should be allowed to transport our animals.
“We want total transparency from the industry regarding the health and welfare of our animals from our farms to their final destinations.
“Our industries monitoring and traceability standards are world leading when they are carried out to their regulatory standards, we want these standards met to ensure our animals are cared for and delivered in the best possible health.”
He continued on to say “WAFarmers are not opposed to reviews and changes. We expect efforts where world best practice can be realised from ourselves and our partners. If this is not occurring, well then, a review should occur so that we can get back on target for everyone’s expectations.”
Sheep producers nationally have been appalled at the latest footage and number of deaths that occurred on these voyages. WAFarmers will be working closely with government and all sectors of industry to ensure appropriate measures are put in place to ensure this does not happen again.
WAFarmers President Tony York is available for comment. Call (08) 9486 2100 to lodge your request.
All media requests must be directed to WAFarmers Media and Communications Officer Melanie Dunn on (08) 9486 2100 or [email protected].