Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) livestock chairman Tim D¹Arcy said producers had informed him that they could not get their cattle killed.
³Lotfeeders are being affected the most; they have cattle going over weight because they can¹t get them slaughtered and this is affecting their price per kilo-gram,² he said.
³There is not a lot of margin in lotfeeding at the moment with grain prices at current levels, so any delays in getting cattle to slaughter are proving very costly.²
Mr D¹Arcy said from an industry point of view, if the lotfeeders went out of business, it would be disastrous.
³PGA is currently negotiating with other processing companies to try and get some more com-petition into the market,² he said.
³This won¹t happen quickly though and until we can get ano-ther processor into the market the problem will continue.²
WAFarmers meat section president Mike Norton said Harvey Beef was missing the boat on a number of new market opportunities.
³They are costing producers money in the short term and missing out on long-term markets,² he said.
Mr Norton said an early break in the eastern states would see a large amount of cattle head over the border, leaving stocks in WA very low.
³We are already seeing re-stockers from the east ‹ that have had rain ‹ operating at store markets in WA,² he said.
³If there is anything like a good, general break in the eastern states then WA cattle are going to be in big demand.²
Mr Norton said cattle produ-cers were becoming disillusio-ned with the processing industry in WA.
³Processors are not develo-ping a lot of loyalty from pro-ducers at the moment,² he said.
³This was the problem last year and it looks like it is going to continue this year.
³We are suffering from a lack of competition in the market and if another large processor did enter the WA market, it would make things very difficult for Harvey Beef.²
Harvey Beef chief executive officer Scott Henderson said it was a complex issue that the company was working to overcome.
³We are running at exactly the same capacity as this time last year,² he said.
³The difference this year is that there are no cattle going over east to slaughter as was the case early last year.
³This means we have 40,000 more cattle, the majority of which are slaughter cattle, to go through the WA system.
³We are running flat out to keep up with the supply.²
Mr Henderson said the upgrade meant the plant could run at an 800 head a day capacity compared to the 500 head it was doing at the moment.
³To meet that increased capacity we would have to employ 100 more staff and with an expected downturn in supply in the coming months, we are not prepared to employ that number if the work is not there for them,² he said.
³At this stage we are looking at September to get to full capa-city, which is traditionally when the spring flush hits and supply peaks going into summer.²
Mr Henderson said producers needed to contact Harvey Beef as early as possible if they had cattle to be killed.
³If they contact us early there will be less chance of a delay,² he said. ³They cannot expect to ring up today and book cattle in for next week.²