FRUSTRATED cattle producers are calling on the State and Federal Governments to offer some assistance in solving the processing problem in WA.
In a year already affected by a poor season, which is contributing to rising feed costs and water shortages, producers believe both governments should be proactive in finding a solution to the processing dilemma.
The situation has become so desperate producers have been forced to send cattle to South Australia to be slaughtered, despite costing up to $160-$170 a head in freight.
Other producers said they would leave the industry if something was not done to rectify the situation.
Pastoralists and Graziers Association meat section president Tim D¹Arcy said the PGA had met with Agriculture Minister Kim Chance to discuss the issue but as yet nothing had been done.
Mr D¹Arcy said it was a disgrace that producers had been forced to send cattle out of WA to be slaughtered.
³It really highlights the inability of the processing sector to meet the current supply of WA cattle,² he said.
³We have met with Minister Chance and discussed the situation but there has been no action from the government at all on this.
³Potentially there are two abattoirs keen to get up and running but red tape and a lack of labour is holding them back.
³The Government needs to step in and do something immediately or the whole system will fall apart.²
Mr D¹Arcy said WA lotfeeders had doubled their numbers in the last three years to meet increased consumer demands for quality beef.
³We face losing some very good markets if something is not done to rectify the situation,² he said.
WAFarmers meat section president Mike Norton said he was meeting with the WA Meat Industry Authority this week to discuss the processing industry in this state.
He said the recent acquisition of an abattoir in Queensland by Harvey Beef owners Harmony Capital Investments showed they believed there was good return available in the meat processing industry.
³From reports I have heard they are making a good return on investment from the Harvey plant,² Mr Norton said.
³The initial plan was to build the operation up and then sell it off, but I believe they are now looking to hold on to it.²
Mr Norton said there was no quick, easy solution to the processing dilemma in WA.
³In conjunction with WAMIA, we are looking at the latest technology and the investment that would be required to build a state of the art plant,² he said.
³We need to be looking at the latest developments and robotics to try and take the labour shortage out of the equation.
³That is one of the biggest barriers to a new abattoir starting up, finding the labour force to run it.²