NOW is the time to change the location of the Boyanup Saleyards in the State's South West, according to Western Australian cattle buyers and producers who frequent the ageing facility.
The call comes as the WA Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said she was considering keeping the existing yards in operation for a further 10 years by upgrading the facility to ensure industry standards.
Last week Ms MacTiernan responded to Farm Weekly's questions, saying that the State government was "committed to ensuring there is a saleyard facility for the South West and we are examining all opportunities that provide the best outcome for producers".
"We are exploring whether the existing saleyard could stay in place for the next 10 years and are working through that possibility with the Shire of Capel and the current lessees," Ms MacTiernan said.
"Obviously, if we go down this path, there would need to be some upgrades to the facility to meet animal welfare standards and to improve customer amenity.
"We will provide an update on the process in coming weeks."
The Shire of Capel has plans to redevelop the site for residential housing and is due to discuss the issue in the coming weeks and possibly vote for one of the options - which will give the government some clarity on its position going forward.
Last year the government initiated a tender process, seeking expressions of interest in a package deal that involved a new South West saleyards, as well as the possibility of leasing or purchasing the Muchea Livestock Centre.
From Ms MacTiernan's response it appears the tender process has not been ruled out after a few expressions of interest made it through to the second round, although there are concerns about that within the industry.
The State government has also run into some unanticipated delays with the Shire of Capel elections in October seeing five new councillors elected, some of whom knew nothing about the saleyard issue.
Farm Weekly understands that discussions have been had recently with WA Livestock Salesmen' Association (WALSA) representatives (Elders and Landmark) which included the potential construction of a roof to the existing yards, as well as major upgrades to the facility at a cost of $3 million.
WALSA leases the yards and as such other livestock agents are unable to operate out of the facility which has created some contention among agents.
The lease is set to expire in June 2022 but that could be lengthened under a new arrangement to 2030.
The Boyanup Saleyards are 58-years-old, having been in operation since 1961.
In the 2006 State Saleyard Strategy it found that its "age, design and location prohibited any long-term development" of the site which is in the Boyanup township - backing onto buildings on the main street.
Welldon Beef feedlot owner Gordon Atwell, Williams, said he was at the Boyanup yards last week and bought 290 head of cattle, enough to load three B-trains.
Mr Atwell said he attended the Boyanup and Mt Barker saleyards every week and would buy 4000-5000 head of cattle from Boyanup over the year, with about 6000 head from Mt Barker.
"We turn over about 11,000 head of cattle a year and we only buy from the saleyards," Mr Atwell said.
"We will send four B-trains of cattle a week from January 1, to Harvey Beef."
Mr Atwell said new cattle saleyards, which allowed access to all livestock agents, would increase the number of jobs in the area.
"It's ridiculous," he said.
"Jobs would be created if they opened it up to all agents.
"About 50 more people would be employed, including staff at the yards.
"You'd see the creation of more jobs when you get more competition in the market."
Mr Atwell said the old yards had passed their used-by date and supported the idea of a new one at the Kemerton Industrial Park in the Harvey Shire.
"The Boyanup Saleyards are totally buggered," he said.
"They should shut it down for a whole lot of reasons, including animal welfare issues as well as it just being plain dangerous.
"You have to be careful not to get hurt in the yards.
"Especially someone as tall as me (207 centimetres)."
Mr Atwell said if the State government upgraded the saleyards with a roof, there could be some respiratory issues suffered by the cattle.
"The respiratory issues are bad now and a roof would keep the germs in," he said.
"It would also be detrimental to people's health."
Boyup Brook cattle producer Steve Jackson, who has been involved in the livestock industry since 1964, said any new Boyanup Saleyards should be placed close to where the producers were and not where the buyers want it.
"There's a lot of talk in the media from people who want a new saleyards to be built in Kemerton but they are the buyers," Mr Jackson said.
"Why shouldn't it be up to the producers to decide where it should go?
"There are a lot of small cattle producers down this way.
"Putting yards up at Kemerton is 50 kilometres further than the current yards.
"It should be producers who determine the location."
Mr Jackson, who is a frequent attendee at the saleyards, said he did not support the upgrade of Boyanup and would like a new set of yards built on Lowrie Road in the Capel Shire.
"It's ridiculous," he said.
"The people of Boyanup don't want the yards there and producers have been paying yarding fees for years, so the government shouldn't be listening to what buyers say."
Farm Weekly has previously reported that the land in question at Boyanup is a Crown grant in trust to the Shire of Capel for the purposes of a saleyard.
There's no time limit on the land in trust and it remained in State ownership.
Ms MacTiernan previously said the government would work through a negotiated outcome with the shire, due to its desire to do residential development on the land, when it could find a satisfactory resolution on an alternate site.