WA Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan spoke to the 987 delegates at LambEx 2018 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on Monday, on behalf of major event partner, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).
Ms MacTiernan said the $7 billion per year sheep, wool and meat industry was written in the history of this country.
“It is an incredible industry and has often been through some very turbulent times,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“Our hearts go out to those farmers and New South Wales and Queensland in particular who are currently going through a devastating drought.”
Ms MacTiernan acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding the live export trade.
“We need to work together so we can get that industry restarted in a month’s time when the worst of the heat is over and get it restarted with reputable operators and with adequate vessels,” she said.
“What we need to do is get some clarity on the stocking densities for the next nine months so that operators can understand the commercial decisions that they have to make and get on with the task.”
Ms MacTiernan said more importantly the government’s focus was on contributing to the resilience in the live trade industry so sheep producers could have choices.
“To have the flexibility that they need to respond to changing market conditions.
“And to do that we need to be on top of the science – the technology and the agronomy.”
Another focus was the DPIRD’s research capabilities.
Ms MacTiernan said the State government was committed to the ongoing development of DPIRD’s Katanning research facility as a national sheep research centre.
“In recent years we have put more than $1 million into the research facility so that we can continue to attract the research and increase the collaboration between the State government and other research institutions,” she said.
The minister said this included $900,000 being used for new investment into the research station for the development of a feed efficiency shed.
“This will help us take to the next level the work that we are doing on the national genetic resource flock,” Ms MacTiernan said.
That flock is used to progeny test industry sires for traits such as meat quality which cant be measured in live animals.
The feed efficiency shed will enable them to assess the feed intake of individual sheep to be determined to identify the animals that most efficiently use the feed.
It will work hand in hand with their DEXA equipment.
“The capabilities of DEXA now with the feed efficiency shed will allow researches to identify those genetic traits that will help fast track that selection of the best breeding stock,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“We think it is going to be an important part of producing that catalyst for growth.”