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Sheepmeat Council : Sheepmeat 2013
SHEEPMEAT COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA ANNUAL MUSTER 2013 35 Access into previously very strong markets has been reduced, and in some cases, is non-existent. All sheepmeat growers in Western Australia have been affected by the bans, whether they export or not. Prices at saleyards are at around half of what they were a year ago. It is anticipated that poor prices will continue but the recent return of the Australian dollar to just below parity may help. The Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) was implemented across all live sheep export markets by the end of 2012. Compliance in most markets has been satisfactory but the previously large Saudi Arabian market that took more than a million head of live sheep in 2007 is now non- existent. Amongst those suffering from the closure of this market are the producers who run the exotic, fat tail breeds of sheep. Previously, fat-tail rams received a premium price in the Saudi market but the market for these animals has significantly reduced. Some of these producers are able to sell the exotic breeds into other markets but the numbers are nowhere near what they used to be and the price offered is significantly lower. There is some optimism that alternate markets will open and provide sheep producers with renewed opportunity to do business. WAFarmers recognises that working with exporter groups such as West Australian Livestock Exporters Association (WALEA) and Australian Live Export Council (ALEC) to help refine the regulatory requirements of ESCAS will help reduce costs and delays that flow on to producers. WAFarmers is also working with Peak Industry Councils such as SCA, to help improve circumstances for producers who have been put in a challenging position by ESCAS. WAFarmers supports the animal welfare aspects of ESCAS but is actively seeking to reduce the excessive regulatory burden in the system. Competition has also been reduced amongst the number of local meatworks which has meant producers feel they are not receiving the best price. These challenging financial times have meant that many producers will look to leaving the livestock industry and move into grain production. WAFarmers does not support the mandatory implementation of electronic tagging in sheep. In the recent consultation process on the Animal Health and Welfare Standards and Guidelines, WAFarmers was sceptical about the implementation of mandatory pain relief when no such affordable topical product was available. On May 1, the Biosecurity and Agricultural Management Act (BAM Act) was reformed to harmonise several existing regulations. WAFarmers participated in the consultation process. One of the outcomes of this reformed legislation is that all sheep sold in WA are levied (opt out is available) and contribute to the Sheep and Goats Industry Funding Scheme that ensures industry is able to address any biosecurity threats through that fund. WAFarmers also supports the recent Sheep Health Statement (SHS) that enables producers to manage the potential threat of Ovine Johne’s Disease (OJD) with declarations and regional self-management. WAFarmers welcomes the appointment of a Livestock Biosecurity Regional Officer who will be housed at the WAFarmers offices. WAFarmers continues to work towards ensuring a sustainable and profitable meat industry for future generations of Western Australian farmers. We look forward to our continued association with SCA and will ensure that the interests of WA sheep producers are represented at a national level. For further information www.wafarmers.org.au WAFarmers Live export is the top strategic priority for the sector. The impact of the live export bans after the horrific events in Pakistan are still being acutely felt in regional Western Australia.