Frustration over lamb definition

Zach RelphCountryman
Member for Roe Peter Rundle says Australia’s new lamb definition must be implemented by July 1.
Camera IconMember for Roe Peter Rundle says Australia’s new lamb definition must be implemented by July 1. Credit: no copyright

A war of words has erupted over a proposed lamb definition, poised to improve farmers’ returns, with Nationals WA increasing pressure on the McGowan Government to meet its looming deadline.

Nationals WA’s Peter Rundle this week put the heat on WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan to uphold her pledge to align the State’s lamb definition with New Zealand by July 1.

The Member for Roe, who farms near Katanning, said producers were wary about the commitment being met within the announced time frame.

“As a grower, I know only too well the impact the different definitions have on the income of farmers who produce lamb,” Mr Rundle said

“We are at a critical time of the year where lambs are breaking their incisor teeth and the values are reduced under the current system.

“The change in definition means that locally produced lambs will be marketed on an equal footing to those in the Eastern States.”

A lamb is a “young sheep under 12 months of age or which do not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear” in New Zealand.

In Australia, a lamb is considered a hogget as soon as the animal loses a baby tooth which allows a permanent tooth to come through.

Farmers have long-argued aligning Australia’s lamb definition with New Zealand’s would net producers up to $50 extra an animal.

Ms MacTiernan told Countryman in February the McGowan Government was drafting amendments to the WA Meat Industry Authority Regulations to give effect to the new definition.

Ms MacTiernan maintained in Legislative Council last Thursday the timeframe would be satisfied.

“I have made it very clear that we want these regulations to be implemented and gazetted by July 1, 2019,” she said.

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