Push to rebuild WA flock
Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan is confident WA can rebuild its dwindling sheep numbers.
The current state of the flock stands at about 13.7 million, with industry experts believing the amount needs to be increased to take full advantage of current record wool and sheepmeat prices.
Ms MacTiernan said a robust market along with State Government strategies would help move WA farmers back to sheep.
The minister was speaking at the formal launch of LambEx, the flagship sheep and lamb industry event set to return to Perth from August 5-7, to be held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.
“WA’s sheep numbers have gone down from about 30 million, 20 years ago, to what it is today,” she said.
“But through discussions with the pastoral industry, where the decline has been most dramatic, they are saying numbers can be built back up.
“Also, with the market outlook for lamb and wool, we will support our producers with research and development, marketing and stock security.”
Ms MacTiernan said increased grain competition coming from the Black Sea could make sheep more sustainable for the future.
“The market there has been opening up, with Russia and Ukraine moving from being net importers to massive players on the world market,” she said.
“This has reduced the wheat prices and is going to cause people to wonder whether or not we should go back into the old mixed-enterprise formula. That way you spread risk about prices.
“We suspect production from the region will continue to grow and market forces will be at play that will encourage people back into sheep. And part of the State Government’s job will be to work with industry and farmers to make sure we stay ahead of the competition.”
Former WA Meat Marketing Corporation chairman and LambEx founder Dawson Bradford said it was possible for the flock number to double in five years if everybody “did the right things”.
“The reason the sheep industry is down is that of lack of profitability,” he said.
“Since 1990 the wool market has been awful and nobody was making money. The meat industry has improved in recent years, and that has caused a swing in wool to meat production.
“But we’re back into good times in the wool industry, and sheepmeat has never been as dear.”
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails