SUPPORTERS of the live sheep trade will have the opportunity to be updated on the latest research and regulatory details of the trade this week when Federal O'Connor MP Rick Wilson undertakes his second Live Export Update tour of his electorate.
On Wednesday, August 19 and Thursday, August 20, Mr Wilson, along with veterinarian and former WA Liberal senator Dr Chris Back and The Livestock Collective managing director Dr Holly Ludeman, will visit Brookton, Wickepin, Lake Grace, Darkan, Kojonup and Katanning to inform and answer questions about the current position of the trade and its future for WA producers.
Mr Wilson said his first tour, which he held 18 months ago, was a success, but "a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then".
"Even though live export has been out of the headlines, there's been a fair bit happening," Mr Wilson said.
"There has been some new data unearthed about the northern summer moratorium and we see it as a window of opportunity to reopen the debate about the length of time we pause the trade and hopefully reduce that to just July and August.
"Opening up June and September would be good for the industry."
Mr Wilson said there needed to be a push from growers to get behind the industry otherwise it would be regulated out of existence, despite having made measured improvements to animal welfare outcomes at a time when the Middle East depended on live exports.
"They have been buying chilled meat but air freight had died off due to COVID-19 and it has highlighted the need for them and us to diversify away from chilled meats," he said.
"Forty six per cent of our chilled meat goes to China, up from 28c in 2017.
"It makes us very reliant on them as a market.
"Live export gives us the diversification to enter markets that are desperate for food."
Mr Wilson said a new memorandum of understanding had been signed between Australia and Saudi Arabia, which was another opportunity to grow the trade.
"The MoU stopped short of the ESCAS (Export Supply Chain Assurance System) but it showed that they want to work together, and it's an opportunity for us to find a way to make it work," he said.
Saudi Arabia is the biggest live animal market in the world, taking about eight million head of livestock a year from around the world.
"If there's good will on both sides and a can-do attitude reopening the market would provide WA producers with more opportunities than they could hope for," Mr Wilson said.
He said the Independent Regulator of live exports had placed a "blanket ban" on trade to the Middle East during the northern summer period, which he wanted changed because he said the Red Sea was a different environment than the Persian Gulf.
"I'd like to see the regulator look at the blanket ban," Mr Wilson said.
"The situation in June with the Al Kuwait vessel showed us where there's a political will there's a way to make it happen."
Mr Wilson said the trade had "come a long way since 2017" and he invited interested parties to "come along and listen and get up to date, and go out and champion the industry."
Dr Ludeman will present information from the recent studies conducted on the Al Kuwait in June as it travelled to Kuwait and what the implications could be going forward if the regulator takes it on board, while Dr Back gave evidence in the live cattle court case with the Federal government and he will present on that issue and how it impacts the trade.