LIVESTOCK Industry Funding Schemes (IFS) are flagging an increase in industry levies for the 2018-19 financial year to help control wild dogs.
The schemes operate across the cattle, sheep and goat and grains, seed and hay sectors in Western Australia, allowing industry to raise funds to address key biosecurity issues.
While livestock levies have remained unchanged for the 2017-18 financial year, the scheme’s committees are consulting with industry to add wild dogs to its priority list and potentially increase levies to tackle the issue.
Sheep and Goat Industry Funding Scheme chairman Ed Rogister said they had been asked to look at mechanisms to control wild dogs inside the 1170 kilometre barrier fence, which extends from north of Kalbarri to Jerdacuttup.
Sheep and goat producers pay a 10 cent contribution on the sale of each animal or carcase produced to fund programs to control virulent footrot.
The IFS are also trialling a strain specific footrot vaccine.
At the end of March the sheep and goat IFS fund balance was about $2 million.
Mr Rogister said following reports of wild dogs in the Moora area and Wundowie, there was concern that once dogs move into the Darling Ranges that it would only take a few years for the animals to end up in Albany.
He said the Wild Dog Action Plan contained no facility nor funding set aside for use to manage dogs inside the barrier fence.
The IFS committee is adamant that funds won’t be spent on building or maintaining the fence.
“We as a committee have made a decision that no way we will entertain this as we believe that that is a whole of the State’s responsibility, including the people in the Perth metro area,” Mr Rogister said.
“The barrier fence will protect a lot of things other than dogs, such as camels, donkeys and foxes and that is a State, not an industry management issue.”
Additional contributions collected through the IFS would complement the State government’s $19.94m funding which was announced in November last year to support WA’s livestock industry and help landowners to control predatory wild dogs and other agricultural pests in regional areas.
The federal government has also kicked in $1.5m for landholders to increase their capacity to manage wild dogs and an additional $1m for regional wild dog fencing projects.
Cattle IFS chairman Steve Meerwald said while the cattle scheme’s fund was focused on surveillance programs for enzootic bovine leucosis, tuberculosis and Johne’s disease (BJD), wild dogs were “on the radar” of the committee.
Cattle producers pay a 20c contribution on the sale of each animal or carcase, with the fund balance at $5.5m.
“We have written to the major industry stakeholders and advised them that wild dogs were on the IFS radar and over the next several months we will start consulting with them on what they believe the industry should be doing because at the end of the day the IFS management committees are coordinating the desires of the industry,” Mr Meerwald said.
“If the cattle industry wished to raise funds to assist in the management programs of wild dogs we need to get an endorsement from the industry to see how much the industry is willing to contribute, what programs it would like to generate or support and then as a consequence we would put to the minister (or Agriculture and Food) for an increase in the levy to fund those programs.”
Hay, grain and seed producers will see a slight decrease in their levies for the next financial year, which are collected to fund programs to control skeleton weed and three-horned bedstraw.
Department of Agriculture and Food WA scheme executive officer Rebecca Heath said grain contributions were being reduced from 30 cents on the first sale of every tonne of grain and seed to 25c.
Hay producer contributions will reduce from 15c on the first sale of hay to 12.5c.
The new contribution rates will come into effect from July 1.
“With strong grains harvests in recent seasons, the funding scheme account balance for grains, seeds and hay has grown,” she said.
“The skeleton weed and bedstraw programs will be fully funded during 2017-18, ensuring the programs continue to meet grower needs and expectations.”
Hay, grain and seeds IFS chairman Ron Creagh said the fund covered the cost of spraying and controlling skeleton weed on public and private property.
He said support for the scheme was strong, with low opt-out rates.
“Farmers can opt out but we have some 4900 people that pay into the scheme and we have had about 11 or 12 that have opted out, so that is an indication to me that people want to keep the scheme going, particularly with skeleton weed,” Mr Creagh said.
Ms Heath said opt out rates across the schemes had been low, signalling industry acknowledgement of the value of the schemes but producers who wished to opt out of the schemes must submit a 2017-18 Notice of Opt Out form before the end of the month.
Those opting out lose all entitlements to assistance and compensation via the scheme.