WITH the deadline for the Productivity Commission’s accelerated report just two weeks away, pork producers have been submitting their views on the impact of pigmeat imports on their industry.
Farmers from around Australia have agreed the impact is significant with some expecting a reduced income in the future and others already feeling its effect on the bottom line.
Although producers have adopted risk management strategies, these have not been sufficient and many are struggling to survive.
Increased grain prices and operating expenses, as well as the high Australian dollar, have also significantly impacted on the industry, leaving some people with no where to go but to leave.
WA Pork Producer Association (WAPPA) executive officer Russell Cox said whatever the outcome of the inquiry there needed to be balance in the trade of pigmeat, particularly those products from the Denmark and USA.
Those countries had producer-supported schemes and subsidies which gave producers an advantage over their Australian counterparts.
“An imposition of a tariff to put a balance in trade in pigmeat would be in the best interest of all industry stakeholders,” Mr Cox said.
In 1994, the Federal Government, without consultation with the industry, agreed to a bound tariff rate of zero on imported pigmeat under World Trade Organisation regime.
Producers who were investing in the industry would not have been aware of the impact this now has on their businesses.
Given there has been a 16pc reduction in the production of pigmeat in WA since 2004, it was imperative that all stakeholders worked together to restructure and expand the industry to satisfy the future demand for fresh pork and capture prospective export markets in the Asian region.
Westpork general manager Neil Ferguson said it would prefer to see a specific package designed for those producers who wish to genuinely exit the industry.
“The problem with the exit strategies in the past is they have been focused toward the small inefficient producer with very little behind them in terms of assets,” Mr Ferguson said.
“A simple exit program designed at the small end of the production spectrum will not achieve what it is intended to do or what the industry needs.
“An exit program would need to be substantial, designed to remove some of the mid-size and larger producers from the industry and keep them out for a period of time.”