The Opposition has called on Agriculture Minister Jackie Jarvis to immediately initiate crisis talks with sheep producers, buyers and processors as the industry grapples with a loss of confidence and falling sheep prices due to Labor’s looming live export ban.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Colin de Grussa said the WA Labor Government had to wake up to the dire situation evolving for sheep producers and the communities which rely upon the industry.
“I have been warning Labor for months that a dry-growing season and excess carry over of livestock, caused by the loss of confidence as a result of Labor’s live export ban, has created an impossible situation for farmers,” Mr de Grussa said.
“Yesterday I met with the Minister and asked her to initiate crisis talks immediately in the hope Government will work fast to find a path forward.
“With the price of sheep in some areas falling below the cost of transportation for sale, the maintenance of stock is becoming unsustainable. This, in addition to scarcity of feed and sheep carry over is creating the perfect storm for our industry.”
Mr De Grussa said the issue is not the result of climate change, it is the result of government interference”.
“The WA Labor Government must find a way to restore confidence in this leading industry and protect West Australian livelihoods and the mental wellbeing of our farmers,” he said.
“When asked about this issue in parliament yesterday, the Minister all but admitted she had no idea of the scale of the challenge facing producers.
“When I put the call for crisis talks to the Minister, and emphasised the need for us to work beyond politics and in good faith to ensure the scale and urgency of this issue is understood, she agreed.”
“The time for action is now – the WA Labor Government have ignored pleas from industry and calls from the Opposition to step in, and now the industry needs an eleventh-hour solution which we don’t trust will come from a Department which is a husk of its former self.”
Deputy Opposition Leader and Member for Roe Peter Rundle said with sheep carrying over from the Autumn season farmers and producers were unable to get sheep into abattoirs and other markets.
“Our communities don’t forget events like this – people remember being in this situation in the 1990s when they were forced to euthanise sheep flocks because of the plummeting wool price” Mr Rundle said.
“The scars of this trauma are still evident in our communities, and we cannot allow this to happen again.
“This is what we have been warning the tin-eared State and Federal Labor Governments about, but they have refused to take seriously the human impact of their brutal and ideological ban on live export.
“Make no mistake, the crisis of our prized sheep industry is a direct result of the looming ban and if the impending devastation isn’t enough to change the Federal Labor Government’s mind on this, nothing will.”