THE Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie has reiterated the party's stance that the live sheep trade will not be phased out under a coalition government.
Speaking at a roundtable meeting with producers and stock agents at the Katanning saleyards recently, Ms McKenzie was responding to a question from Corrigin farmer and The Sheep Collective representative Steven Bolt.
Mr Bolt said it was important the industry started to look forward and not in the past.
"Through The Sheep Collective we have growers, transporters, stock agents through to exporters covering the whole industry supply chain and I think it is important we are all working together in the same direction to have a positive outcome," Mr Bolt said.
"The live export industry is crucial to regional WA and if there was to be a phase out it would have a significant impact on rural communities."
In response, Ms McKenzie said there would "not be a phase out under a coalition government".
"Any government the National party is a part of will not be phasing out live sheep exports," she said.
"I am telling you as one of the most senior ministers in this coalition government, if my party is in government, the live sheep trade will keep operating."
The unprecedented action of animal activists was also a key talking point at the meeting, with producers keen to know what more the Federal government could do to curb their behaviour.
"For me the underpinning tenet that I bring to the conversation is a fundamental belief that when regional Australia is strong and producing so too is our nation," Ms McKenzie said.
"Seventy per cent of our exports come from regional Australia and WA is a fantastic example of this with its mining and agricultural industries underpinning our national economy.
"Unfortunately in recent times there is a growing disconnect between those that live in inner urban capital cities and those in regional Australia.
"This is evidenced by the live sheep debate.
"When you have that disconnect it is very hard for policy makers because you have a very loud minority disrupting the highly productive majority and its sensible common sense perspective.
"The animal activist piece is very concerning and anyone who thinks you can find the middle ground here is kidding themselves.
"These people will not stop until we are no longer farming livestock.
"That is their end goal and if we think there is some middle ground we can co-exist in, we are kidding ourselves.
"We need a swift and proactive response.
"Every State government needs to enact legislation with very hefty fines for individuals who think it is ok to break into someone's home or enterprise to release stock and to undermine a way of life."
Ms McKenzie said the recent animal activist action in Melbourne had swung sentiment the farming industry's way.
"I have sensed a mood change in urban Australia as a result of quite militant behaviour in Flinders Street," she said.
"Australians have been compassionate and supportive of drought-affected farmers on the east coast and I think there is a desire to assist our farmers and seeing that militancy, Australians have said 'that is going too far'.
"Now is the time to put in really tough legislation because the community wants it."