By PETER HENDERSON
MOVES were under way to activate the Australian Farmers' Fighting Fund to support an industry
class action against animal liberationists who supposedly introduced shredded ham into Portland export feedlots last week.
PGA president Barry Court said after a crisis meeting of WA industry on Monday, which included WAFarmers and live exporters, that he was going to put the fighting funds proposal to the NFF conference this week.
He said fighting fund chairman Ian McLachlan had indicated money would be available to support industry in this kind of situation.
"It is time for this industry to show the animal liberation movement that it is not prepared to tolerate such actions," Mr Court said.
"The police have told us it is an act of bio-terrorism and we are very concerned it might spread to WA."
He said security at WA feedlots was being strengthened.
The incident at Portland, added to the suspension of the Saudi Arabian market, was threatening to cause a backlog of livestock available for export which had reduced export wether prices by up to $10 a head in the past two months.
Farmers and livestock industry sectors relying on the livestock export for a living are furious and want something done.
Mr Court said they would make an example of the people responsible for placing the ham in one section of a feedlot containing 1800 sheep. Tests were still to conclude whether the product was ham.
The government, fearful of a repeat of the Cormo Express incident, refused to issue an export permit for the sheep until it received a written assurance from Kuwait that the sheep would be accepted.
Emanuel Exports manager Graham Daws said the only reason the sheep could not leave was because the government would not issue export permits and that existing protocols would have allowed the sheep to be accepted in Kuwait.
The placement of ham with sheep could have contravened Muslim halal slaughter codes and made all 80,000 sheep assembled in the feedlot complex potentially unfit for export.
Most of the sheep were to be loaded onto the Al Shuwaikh, owned by the Kuwait Livestock Transport and Trading group.
WA Livestock Exporters Association John Edwards said the cost of the delay in loading sheep and cattle onto two ships, including extra support services, would be well over half a million dollars for the first week.
"Parties involved will be looking for the maximum amount of retribution in this case," he said.
"I believe any action of this kind needs to face the full extent of the law."
Mr Edwards said while animal liberationists said they wanted the live export trade converted to a frozen meat trade their actions could have jeopardised halal frozen meat markets in the Middle East.
WA Agriculture minister Kim Chance has directed that penalities for dealing with possible consequences of animal disease outbreaks and incidents such as at Portland be reviewed because they were out of date and inadequate.
He said the existing penalty for feed restricted feed to a ruminant animal was $2000.