APBA president Judith Pearce and spokesman Chris Dodoff said there needed to be a facility for selling pigs via live auction in order for small producers to survive in the industry and to keep the industry alive.
Mr Dodoff said the APBA was upset by the way the State Government had dealt with small producers and was questioning why it had not been consulted over the maintenance and upgrading of the pig facility at Midland as the Western Australian Pig Producers Association (WAPPA) was.
³Agriculture Minister Kim Chance has made no effort to see the state of the yards,² Mr Dodoff said.
³It is like he does not care.²
Mr Dodoff said there was no reason why the APBA should not have been consulted by the State Government as it represented the majority of pig producers in WA.
³WAPPA does not represent the voice of the small producer,² Mr Dodoff said.
³WAPPA opposes the selling of pigs via auction and does not want the relocation of the pig saleyards, whereas our organisation supports the sale of pigs via auction.²
Mr Dodoff said the actions taken by the government would see more producers leaving the industry and pig numbers reduced below the level required to meet the needs of the local market, especially those of local butchers who relied on the saleyards to source their pork.
He said the APBA members were mainly free-range and chemical-free producers and had high standards of production to meet food safety standards.
Mr Chance claimed the option for the Muchea saleyards to accommodate the live auction of pigs had been thoroughly consi-dered.
He said pig throughput numbers had dropped to a level where incorporating pig selling facilities was not viable.
³The vast majority of pigs are direct sold and the peak industry body, WAPPA, stands by its dec-ision to support direct selling of pigs to processors due to con-cerns with the increased biose-curity (health and disease) and animal welfare risks of marke-ting through saleyards,² Mr Chance said.
³In March 2004 industry was advised that it is unlikely that new pig saleyards would be via-ble given the low and falling throughput, which now repre-sents less than 2pc of pig sales.
³Producers selling pigs at Midland were encouraged to explore opportunities for direct sale of their pigs to processors through the use of their livestock agents, and in this way both processors and producers will have an improved knowledge of supply and price.
³Currently the pig shed at Midland is closed due to WorkSafe orders.
³The Meat Industry Authority has engineers¹ reports and are currently considering options to improve the structural integrity of the shed and enable sales to be continued for a short time; this could be for several more weeks or well into 2007, depending on the viability of the options being investigated.²
Opposition Agriculture spokesman Gary Snook said he supported the position of the APBA and there had to be a facility for small breeders.
³I think what has happened is a disgrace,² he said.
³They have been paying yard fees and have watched the yards deteriorate through a lack of maintenance because of the prospects of the Muchea saleyards ‹ but there will be no facility for them there.
³Where is the justification in charging pig sellers a yard fee?
³There has been some talk of doing some maintenance on them to keep them going as the Muchea yards are still 18 months away.
³There is a need for it with a number of butchers buying from there and pig numbers meeting the required numbers of more than 200 a fortnight.²
Mr Snook said if he were in government he would be making provision for pig sales at Muchea.
³If they do not provide something they should pay back the levies the sellers have been paying all these years,² Mr Snook said.
Nationals Agricultural region MLC Murray Criddle said the government needed to accommodate the small producers who sold via auction at Midland.
Though he did not think Muchea was the place for pig sales he said if the government thought it could accommodate them there then that would be a good option.
³It is up to the government to find a way - they took the facility away and they need to provide somewhere for them or secure a method of sale for those people,² Mr Criddle said.
Mr Dodoff said he would be on the campaign trail until he was heard by Mr Chance and live auctions were allowed to continue.
As Farm Weekly went to press the APBA had an appointment to meet with Mr Chance to discuss the options available.