DUE to COVID restrictions, acute staff shortages and supply chain constraints, WAMMCO have experienced the same operating challenges confronted by many local agricultural companies and farmers.
The timing of these events coincided with strong export prices and very good seasonal conditions, which have added to the processing challenges.
However, in this time WAMMCO shareholders enjoyed record returns and increased rebates while capital improvements continued to be undertaken.
WAMMCO chairman Craig Heggaton said while WAMMCO was dedicating significant resources to these challenges the cooperative was still planning for an expanded role in the industry.
This was reflected in the procurement of more overseas workers, the recent purchase of the Jumbuck Motel in Katanning, the continuing development and investment by WAMMCO in the North American Lamb Cooperative - which provides premium lamb access to northern American markets - and successful operations at its Goulburn plant in NSW.
Mr Heggaton indicated more board and operational planning is underway to ensure staffing and processing capacity will meet WA producer demands.
However, he warned severe shortages in workers, and particularly worker accommodation, building materials, and contractors all remained "very real challenges" to meet despite the financial strength of the group.
In a statement WAMMCO reported:
"While our interests are in the processing and exporting of prime lamb and mutton, the board recognises issues surrounding the industry and the possible impact of a decision by the Albanese Government to ban live sheep exports from 2027.
"Some shareholders within WAMMCO are currently also live sheep exporters and as an industry leader WAMMCO recognises it has a role to play going forward.
"The fact is the current Federal government position is live sheep export is not up for debate and merely the implementation will be post the next election."
Against this background Mr Heggaton stated - should the ban occur - the whole WA industry would need to adjust, and government support will be needed across all sectors.
He stressed since commencing as a producer owned cooperative in the late 1990s WAMMCO had met the challenges highlighted by the Court Government pre-formation and had now paid producer members over $38 million in rebates, invested more than $60 million in capital improvements, and had a balance sheet strength to deliver on the industry challenges.
Mr Heggaton added, timing of meeting these challenges would be dictated by building/technology and contractor supply timelines, government policy and support, and the usual seasonal factors relevant to the industry.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.