Labor’s new drought task force too late for struggling producers

The Opposition has condemned comments made by Agriculture Minister Jackie Jarvis this week advising farmers they would need to consider euthanising livestock as animal welfare conditions plummet during drought conditions.

Shadow Agriculture Minister Colin de Grussa MLC said it was shocking commentary and indicated the Labor Government had no solutions to offer struggling primary producers.

“Farmers and producers who attended a drought meeting in the South West this week were livid at comments made by the Minister for Agriculture that they need to be prepared to euthanise their animals,” Mr de Grussa said.

“This is a Minister with no solutions beyond offering mental health support to struggling farmers who are now facing the prospect of shooting thousands of animals, because the Government has failed to act with any urgency and failed to heed our warnings.”

Mr de Grussa said the Opposition had been sounding the alarm on behalf of primary producers for the past year, warning that intervention in the market by the Federal Labor Government would have a disastrous impact.

“Last year, I raised concerns about the impact of high numbers of carry over stock and a lack of feed ahead of a dry summer and called for the Government to take action.

“The Minister dismissed these concerns, refused to task the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development with assessing the situation, and claimed there were no reports of on-farm animal welfare incidents.

“When I again raised these concerns and warned that farmers would face the task of euthanising thousands of sheep due to market conditions and constrained processing capacity, the Minister again failed to act.

“And just last month, the Minister downplayed concerns that farmers were in need of assistance to transport feed or relocate livestock, only to backflip and announce a new Dry Season Taskforce to help farmers with these exact issues.”

Member for Roe Peter Rundle MLA asked the Premier this week when financial support would be made available to allow farmers to cart fodder and water to their properties.

“The Premier’s response today continued to show the dismissive and arrogant attitude we have come to expect from the Cook Labor Government,” Mr Rundle said.

“It’s clear the Premier has no understanding around the impact of Labor’s live export ban nor the relationship that the live export market provides in allowing stressed growers to sell their livestock to relieve pressure on farm feed and water resources.

“It’s frankly disturbing how little this Labor Government understands or cares about our agricultural sector,” Mr Rundle said.