ASSURANCE must be provided to WA sheep producers over the future of the live export trade as soon as possible to allow time for the industry to adapt to any potential market changes.
That’s the view of Durack MP Melissa Price, who like everyone involved in the live export industry, wants clear direction for the industry’s future, including the licence status of exporter, Emanuel Exports.
Emanuel Exports is Australia’s largest live sheep exporter and is under investigation after 2400 sheep died due to heat stress on board a shipment from Fremantle last August.
The live export trade has been brought to a halt since the suspension of the company’s licence, with WA’s second largest exporter, Livestock Shipping Services, also out of action as a result of regulatory changes that have made the business unviable in Australia at certain times of the year.
The Assistant Minister for Environment said several concerns had been raised from her constituents over the fate of the live export trade, which she described as “critically important” to the sustainability of the sheep and cattle industries.
“It’s ultimately (O’Connor MP) Rick Wilson and my electorates where the majority of the live sheep exports come from, so for people in my electorate this is a very important issue and I want it resolved urgently,” Ms Price said.
“Whatever the outcome of that is – and I’m hoping that that’s determining some improvements to the system – we need to come out very clearly and articulate what that is so that people can then start making business decisions.
“It’s not just the likes of Emanuels and other exporters but the people who own the livestock – they need to know what the pathway is for the future.
“This is a very important issue and I want it resolved urgently.”
Ms Price said while some of her Federal colleagues were against the live export of sheep out of Australia, she had continued to advocate for the continuation of the trade.
She said many people on the East Coast did not fully understand the consequences of the cessation of the trade on the entire agricultural sector, as it predominantly affected Western Australians.
“I’ve had numerous conversations with my colleagues – there are some of my colleagues who won’t be moved on their perspective – but I’ve certainly spoken with them and made my opinion known,” Ms Price said.
“More broadly speaking with people on the east coast, especially wearing my Environment Minister’s hat, I get a chance to speak to a whole raft of people and try to dispel some of the myths that are surrounding this industry.”
The Durack MP said she was looking forward to further discussion surrounding live export and other issues impacting agricultural sector at next week’s Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days.