‘Strong united voice’ for live trade

Michael TraillNarrogin Observer
Dumbleyung sheep farmer Chloe McDougall with her son Hugo, 2, and mother Karen Bairstow, at the sheep farmers' rally.
Camera IconDumbleyung sheep farmer Chloe McDougall with her son Hugo, 2, and mother Karen Bairstow, at the sheep farmers' rally. Credit: Picture: Nic Ellis

Sheep producers still face a nervous wait over the live stock trade future, despite representatives from both the State and Federal Governments pledging support.

About 1000 farmers and live export industry workers gathered in Katanning last week for a public forum organised by WAFarmers, which pleaded with farmers to organise against attacks on the trade, establishing the “Promote Agriculture Fund”.

Six farming and agricultural industry associations, including WAFarmers, from across WA created the “working group” in an effort to advocate on behalf of the trade, stating that “self-representation and a strong united industry voice is essential” for the industry’s future.

WAFarmers representatives, Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson, State Minister for Agriculture and Food Alannah MacTiernan and former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce all discussed the trade at the forum, before those in attendance were given the opportunity to voice their concerns. Mr Wilson told the forum on behalf of Federal Minister for Agricultural and Water Resources David Littleproud that “live export is still open for business and has the support of the Australian government”.

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Ms MacTiernan announced a $5 million “low-interest” loan to Katanning sheep meat processors to undertake capital works, in an effort to diversify sale opportunities for sheep producers.

The minister publicly stated she supported the live export trade after being repeatedly asked by the public to do so, during the forum’s open discussion.

No one received a warmer welcome than Mr Joyce. He encouraged the industry to rally together to fight back against opponents of the trade, who he described as “zealots”.

“They’ve got an absolute religion, they want to close the live sheep game and where will they go next?” he said. “Live cattle, and then it’s going to be the live transport industry.”

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