THERE were a few firsts and a little controversy when LambEx 2018 kicked off at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on Sunday night.
The Kojonup, WA, based Miotti Transport parked a prime mover with two livestock carrying crates for a visual display, and the opening speeches by LambEx 2018 chair and Sheep Producers Australia board member and Bindi Murray, Woodanilling, WA, and Fletchers International Exports owner Roger Fletcher, were presented on a shearing shed platform - provided by Commander Ag Quip.
Hundreds of delegates shared a few drinks at the Fletchers International Exports welcome function which gave everyone a casual start to the event, although that was not without controversy.
During Mr Fletcher’s speech he said he had to “tell the truth” and highlighted the need for the sheep meat and wool industry bodies to join together as one group to prevent duplication of expenditure and provide a strong voice in lobbying government.
Mr Fletcher said the sheep and wool industries combined were as big as the cattle industry and he didn’t “understand why the sheep and wool industry was not under one banner”.
He said it was important to clean up the splinter organisations across the country and “the quicker we do that the better”.
“We need to improve the industry,” he said.
“With one strong board.
“What that will do is put us in a better position for marketing and negotiating free trade agreements.”
Mr Fletcher also said there was a need for industry and the government to plan ahead to meet the needs of producers when facing future droughts.
“Grower organisations have money in the bank,” he said.
“They need to use it to help producers prepare for droughts.
“Government needs to give money to prepare for droughts”, (in the areas of water retention and crops).
He said sheep meat was becoming a luxury item in Australia as the price continued to rise and the wool industry was “the best it’s been in a long time”’.
Mr Fletcher said the industry was in a great position to be able to grow over the next four to five years, by about 20 per cent, but world markets needed to be stretched and they needed to find different ways to market the animal.
“One lamb can go to 62 different customers,” Mr Fletcher said (after processing).
He said the product being exported around the world was different than what it use to be and Australia had to go along with the challenge of change to make the most of the demand.
“I hope I’ve given you something to think about,” Mr Fletcher said as he concluded.