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Sheepmeat Council : Sheepmeat 2015 2016
44 SHEEPMEAT COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA ANNUAL MUSTER 2015-16 The Western Australian Farmers Federation WAFarmers has 17 regional zones throughout the State which allows members to express their views at a local level. Introduction The fires in the Esperance and South West regional areas of Western Australia have caused considerable heart ache for livestock producers. Stock losses were minimal considering the ferocity of the fires. The biggest issues for livestock producers are the loss of fencing and stock feed, including pasture, hay and grain. WAFarmers set up appeals for cash and feed donations for both the Esperance and Waroona fires, with feed deliveries being made to appointed depots just outside each of the fire zones. The Livestock and Rural Transport Association of WA have supplied trucks and drivers free of charge to help with deliveries. Blaze Aid and local farmer volunteers are doing a brilliant job helping with rebuilding fences. Fencing suppliers are providing fencing materials at discounted prices as many producers have limited or no insurance to cover these losses. It is early days for the south west region to really assess their needs and Esperance farmers are only just starting to get a handle on the damage and what their needs are. On a marketing front, solid demand for lamb and mutton on both the domestic and export markets coupled with tight supplies has kept prices reasonable. Domestically, lamb consumption trends do not appear to have altered significantly despite increased retail prices. Exports While shipments out of WA are below previous years, Fremantle has continued to ship in excess of 1 million head annually. WA sheep exports have primarily been driven by demand from the Middle East, with the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait among the largest export destinations in 2015. Demand has flowed through to sheep prices, with live export buyers competing strongly with the processing sector to fill orders. Overall export demand for lamb and mutton is strong particularly with China coming on board. A new contract signed between V&V Walsh and the Chinese importer and distributor Heilongjang Grand Farm Group is likely to see 500,000 more lambs go through the abattoir WAFarmers is the state’s largest and most influential rural advocacy organisation representing the interests of Western Australian livestock and arable producers at state and national levels. in Bunbury. The sheepmeat industry in WA is hopeful deals like these will encourage producers to increase WA’s 14.2 million head sheep flock, which is half the size it was 20 years ago. WAFarmers works closely with national peak industry body Sheepmeat Council of Australia to lobby on trade issues and these efforts have achieved some excellent outcomes for sheep producers especially given the importance of the export market to Western Australian livestock producers. A major issue being dealt with at present is how we balance feeding our own backyard as well as meet growing export demand for both meat and live animals to an array of existing and new overseas markets. Intense competition for livestock will only increase and this is going to keep prices high and put pressure on meat processors who will battle to keep their plants running at full capacity. NLIS and NVDs The 2015 year kicked off with a fair bit of controversy as many livestock producers struggled to get their hands on the newer versions of the National Vendor Declaration with WAFarmers demanding answers from MLA and Safemeat. In a united industry effort, WAFarmers is advocating for the retention of the current mob based system for sheep traceability rather than implementation of the mandatory electronic tagging of individual sheep which is being pushed by the Victorian Minister for Agriculture. Implementation of a mandatory tagging system will force unnecessary cost burdens on the entire sheep supply chain and is completely unwarranted given the good compliance records to the current mob based tagging and identification systems in WA, and WAFarmers commends SCA for their lobbying efforts on this matter. Policy A large number of policy areas were dealt with this year including reforms to the MSA and Ausmeat lauguages used by meat processors, the sheep industry strategic plans for Australia and WA, operations at saleyards, the ag vet chemical reforms including the operations of the APVMA, reviews of the Animal Welfare and Biosecurity Acts including the operations of the RSPCA, management of Ovine Johnes Disease and footrot disease in WA, the MLA annual operating plans and the development of the new MLA chaired WA Livestock Research Council, to name but a few. Meat Council representatives have engaged with local council representatives to establish an approvals process and investment strategy for regional saleyards. It is important these yards are maintained and kept functional as they could play a signifcant role in an emergency disease crisis. WAFarmer representatives are concerned about the loss of some regional saleyards and support their use to service the livestock industry. The Meat Council gave their support to the Wellington Alliance of Shire Councils and WALSA (WA Livestock Salesmen’s Association) in their efforts to relocate the Boyanup sale yard. Meat Council meetings A target set by the policy team during 2015 was the development of the WAFarmers Policy manual, which sets out the organisation’s policies for all commodity areas. The WAFarmers Meat Council developed over 30 new policies, which will be included in the document. The Meat Council meetings took on a new format in 2015 where they were held at major meat processing or feedlot facilities. The aim was to open up engagement and better relations with supply chain partners particularly to meet supply chain demands and opportunities. WAFarmers has good representation on peak industry bodies. John Wallace and Steve McGuire attend SCA Council meetings and Jeff Murray is currently the President of Sheepmeat Council of Australia. Sheep Health Workshops In partnership with the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia and commercial sponsors including Zoetis, Landmark, Primaries, Allfllex, West Midlands Producer Group and the Stud Merino Breeders Association of WA, WAFarmers initiated a program of sheep health workshops with the first workshop being conducted at Denmark Ag College in September. Kim Haywood WA Farmers Executive Officer