WHAT are the factors that will ultimately decide which businesses will tender for the expert economic analysis and subsequent impact report on the live sheep export industry phase-out in Western Australia?
The answer to this, according to the WA sheep industry, should be the business that is best able to provide objective analysis, understands the market/s involved across the entire supply chain and is able to provide accurate raw numbers and data, that will properly inform the independent panel in their aims to create a set of recommendations for the government.
Farm Weekly reported last week that several companies had been approached to put in a submission on the impact report back on April 14, with the original deadline of April 20, to start on April 24 and finalise the report by June 30.
A source has told Farm Weekly that due to a lack of submissions, it is understood only one response was received, this process has been pushed out.
As at time of print Farm Weekly did not know the changed parameters for the tender process, but that there were now several consulting businesses that were involved in putting in a submission.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) would not confirm the process had been extended when asked if it would divulge how many businesses had applied and if it would release who the successful applicants were.
"The department will make successful tenderers public when the details are settled," said a DAFF spokesperson.
Understandably businesses are remaining tight-lipped about whether they are putting in a submission for tender when questioned by Farm Weekly, but industry sources have been able to confirm that there are at least three submissions and most likely several more to be entered.
A tip off on Twitter from well known Animal Activist @JimmiJai has confirmed that Animals Australia commissioned Pegasus Economics to update its economic report on the live sheep export trade in WA, that was originally commissioned by Animals Australia in 2018, and coincidentally this updated report is now complete in time for the submission process.
A source said this report would be submitted to the independent panel, a point that has many waiting for the outcomes of the tender process with piqued interest.
The reason many are very wary of the Pegasus report relates to what they say is a lack of industry understanding contained in the report.
Back in 2018 when the original Pegasus report was released, analysts Matt Dalgleish and Andrew Whitelaw who were at the time with Mecardo, put together a value analysis of the live sheep export trade with accurate and timely data and called into question the Pegasus report statements.
Mr Whitelaw, who is a founding director of independent market analysis business Episode 3 (Ep3), said anyone who lodged a submission should base their submissions on the markets.
"The main thing is whoever does the project, does it in an independent and objective manner," Mr Whitelaw said.
"They need to have an in depth understanding of commodity markets and supply chains post farmgate.
"Raw numbers and data are what is important and these need to be as accurate as possible."
Icon Agriculture principal consultant Andrew Ritchie, said he had met with the independent panel as part of its consultation process however, had not been approached in regards to the tender process for the economic and agronomic assessment/impact report.
Mr Ritchie said in his opinion there was no way for that kind of report to be put together for an entire supply chain in just eight weeks and questioned whether there would be enough businesses with that kind of knowledge.
"I think we have to question the qualifications of those who do submit," Mr Ritchie said.
This sentiment is echoed by many sources who noted that understanding the commodities markets and the dynamics of the supply chain in regards to live sheep exports and WA is imperative to being able to present an informed indepth analysis and there are very few businesses who can do this.
One such company would be Mecardo, but it is now part of Nutrien Ag Solutions and as such it has excluded itself from this process due to Nutrien's involvement with the trade in WA.
Another business would be ACIL Allen consulting, which had conducted analysis for Meat & Livestock Australia and Livecorp on the Australian live cattle export trade, but Farm Weekly understands they have not been approached.
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