LAST week the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA (PGA) launched its ‘Support Live Exports’ marketing campaign.
The campaign aimed to highlight the economic and social consequences of banning live sheep exports on producers, regional families, regional communities, rural businesses and WA’s international trading partners.
Included in the campaign is a dedicated website – liveexports.com.au – where farmers, rural businesses and community members could sign on and contribute to support the live sheep export industry.
PGA president Tony Seabrook said the launch of the campaign was the first part of what would be an evolving campaign to include social media, advertising, interviews, industry events and lobbying to dispel the myths about the industry.
He said the first donation to the campaign came from someone that “was not even a sheep producer” and was for $5000.
The PGA is hoping to attract $1 million, with Mr Seabrook saying “anything short of that will not be enough” when there were groups like Animals Australia that have a slush fund of donations of more than $10m to put into advertising campaigns.
“Rural Western Australia can’t afford to sit still on this issue,” Mr Seabrook said.
“Everyone who has an interest in farming needs to get behind this campaign and show their support for this vital industry.
“Live sheep exports underpin the WA sheep meat industry, which is why it is imperative that as an organisation representing primary producers, we have the ability to respond quickly and professionally to the actions of those who want to shut it down.
“We are seeking the support of producers, regional and rural businesses, and the general public to continue our work in promoting the importance of live sheep exports, and to bring balance back into the issue to ‘Fix it – Don’t ban it’.”
Mr Seabrook said a donation of $1 per sheep sold last year was not much to ask producers to contribute.
He said this could be the one and only chance that the industry would have to protect the live sheep trade and he didn’t want people to look back in a few years from now and think that they could’ve done more to support the industry, if it is banned or phased out.
Last week Mr Seabrook and about 18 other sheep producers held a counter rally outside the office of Emanuel Exports in West Perth – where 80 Animals Australia supporters protested the live sheep trade and the possible export of 40,000 sheep by EMS Rural Exports, a sister company to Emanuel Exports.
Footage of the rally appeared on Twitter where supporters of the “ban it” movement ridiculed Mr Seabrook, calling him old and suffering from dementia.
He brushed it off and remains committed to doing what he can for sheep producers and associated industries who rely on the live sheep trade.
Mr Seabrook said he was sick of seeing unopposed rallies and protests where a balanced view was not available.
The licence for EMS Rural Exports was suspended by the Federal Department of Agriculture, casting more uncertainty on the future of the sheep on hold at the Baldivis feedlot.