WAFarmers Livestock president David Slade says sheep farmers could turn to crop after live export dramas

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Mount Barker lamb producer, David Slade.
Camera IconMount Barker lamb producer, David Slade. Credit: Laurie Benson

Mt Barker farmer and WAFarmers Livestock president David Slade is worried farmers in the Great Southern will shift out of the sheep industry due to recent controversy regarding live exports.

His concerns come after the Federal Government’s decision to deny Rural Export and Trading WA — the Australian-based arm of Kuwait Livestock Transport and Trading which owns the troubled Al Kuwait ship — an exemption to export livestock after June 1.

Mr Slade said the decision would flood the WA sheep market and have a long-term effect on the industry. He said it was good example of why WAFarmers had pushed for flexible shipping windows either side of the summer prohibition period, because things can happen which are outside of the industry’s control.

“A very unfortunate situation. It could have happened to any vessel entering WA, but because the vessel just so happened to be a live export ship, now an entire industry suffers at the expense of a mishandled situation,” he said.

“This is going to take the competition out of the market and we will receive a lower price for our stock.

“If we lose our trade with the Middle East, we are not reliable customers, so they will look elsewhere for a reliable food source and set up bases there because they can’t rely on the product from WA.

“It matters that the sheep are back on the market and lessen the competition for us. Prices are good but they are better in the Eastern States, and that is why live export operates out of WA. Without live export, the price will be even lower.”

Mr Slade said the live export bans may lead to more farmers moving into crops. “The cropping scene in WA is better than over east because we get a better price, but the sheep side of it we get less so it gives reason for people to move into crops if they can and sheep out the door,” he said.

“The eastern Wheatbelt and Great Southern are also very low in water for stock.”

He urged the Government to rethink its decision on live export during the summer months.

“It is quite possible to ship right through that summer window especially if you have got arrangements with governments about where they are going to and avoid the really hot ports,” he said. “There are advancements in air-flow technology, boats are faster, there’s observations ... the welfare is far more guaranteed now.”

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