A WA sheep farmer says he may have to resort to shooting sheep unless an exemption to the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) is granted.
Walkaway farmer Michael Trant said he told Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig during a meeting yesterday that destroying sheep was looming as his only option as markets for his Damara sheep had dried up.
Mr Trant said Mr Ludwig’s response was “it is industry’s problem”.
Following the meeting, an angry and upset Mr Trant told Farm Weekly he was furious with Mr Ludwig’s comments.
“Basically he said industry needs to come up with a solution,” Mr Trant said.
“He (Mr Ludwig) has created ESCAS and is standing by it, so there doesn’t sound like there is any scope for a six to 12-month exemption into certain markets so Damara farmers can move some stock.
“We are not entirely sure of where to go from here.”
Mr Trant said the meeting was about what he had expected after hearing rumours about what the Minister was like behind closed doors.
“Basically we told him we will be shooting some stock,” Mr Trant said.
“He replied it was ‘industry’s problem’.”
The Damara sheep are suited to the Saudi Arabian market, but Saudi Arabia has said that it would not implement ESCAS.
Mr Trant runs 14,000 Damara breeding ewes and expects 2000-3000 of them to have lambs in coming weeks.
“Feed and water is okay at the moment but in three to four weeks we will muster the station and from that muster we will have to start making some tough decisions,” he said.
Mr Trant said Mr Ludwig had made a rod for his own back and he would look ‘pretty silly’ if he backflipped on ESCAS.
“He firmly believes that he needs these rules to keep the industry going and in the long term he may be right, but in the short term it is going to be a bloody mess,” he said.
Mr Trant said he had no other option than to begin shooting his sheep and footage would be posted on YouTube.
“It is crap,” he said.
“These people have no idea.
“I told them in no uncertain terms that in a few weeks there will be a video on YouTube showing what we have to do to sell them - castrate them, dehorning them.”
Mr Trant met with the Minister while live export protesters clashed outside the gates of Thornlie Senior High School prior to the Federal Labor Party’s Community Cabinet.
It was estimated about 150 supporters of the trade were at the rally compared to about 50 protesting against it.
“It was a great turn up,” he said.
“That is two (rallies) in four months now, and we (farmers) never do that sort of stuff.
“It has got be some indication of just how annoyed everybody is.
“And if something doesn’t happen soon it could get a lot worse and I would hate to see what would happen.
“There will be dead sheep down in front of Parliament.
“That’s the only thing that will work.
“Animals Australia aren’t the only ones who can make a bloody video.”
When asked if Mr Ludwig would show a little more compassion for the industry if regional WA was part of a marginal seat with just six months until an election, Mr Trant said it wouldn’t hurt.
“But I mean they (Labor) only have three seats in WA so they don’t give a sh*t,” he said.
“He commented a few times that he was more interested in making the general community happy saying there were 18 million people on the eastern seaboard.
“He has got them to keep happy and if that means a 500 or 600 WA sheep growers go broke, then so be it.”
Mr Trant and fellow live export rally protestor Gemma Lee-Steere, Boyup Brook, also handed the Minister a proposal detailing some possible solutions for the Minister to consider.
In response to Mr Trant's actions, Mr Ludwig said he recognised the transition to ESCAS hadn’t been easy.
“The Government continues to work with the industry on its implementation, and to work through issues we encounter, through the Industry Government Implementation Group," Mr Ludwig said.
“We are also working closely with our trading partners.
“It is disappointing that Mr Trant is considering these actions.
“But the transition to ESCAS has not been overnight, and we have been working closely with industry on its roll out for some time.
“I encouraged Mr Trant to work with industry bodies, like the sheep meat council, to find solutions.
“I also told Mr Trant I would pass his submission on to the Industry Government Implementation Group, and that I am happy for them to look at it.”