Stories of hardship as live export debate rumbles on

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Bob GarnantCountryman
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Katanning sheep producer Kallum Blake says Australia leads the way in animal welfare standards.
Camera IconKatanning sheep producer Kallum Blake says Australia leads the way in animal welfare standards. Credit: Bob Garnant

On the eve of last Friday’s WAFarmers’ live export forum, Katanning sheep producer Kallum Blake was attending to an orphan lamb.

The scene was a stark contrast to the live export footage from the Awassi Express that sparked public outrage and a suspended licence for Emanuel Exports.

“This ewe lamb will grow into maturity and contently graze on clean and green pastures for the balance of its productive life,” he said.

“She will produce good-quality fleece for woollen garment production as well as giving birth to upwards of 12 lambs over six years for flock replacement or the sheep trade.”

Mr Blake said producing wool and sheep for the meat trade was vital for farm financing and the live export option was a major component.

“I believe that market forces should dictate any changes to the live sheep trade, and any forced ban is an indictment on Australia’s foreign trade policy,” he said.

“As one of many farmers who care for their animals, we have an obligation to balance the farm books and in doing so we can provide further assurance to the general public that we are keen to maintain a social licence in what we do.”

Mr Blake said the late start to this year’s growing season had cost his family $50,000 in extra feed.

“The current ban on live exports has also had a negative effect on my sheep transport business,” he said.

“The devastating flow-on effect, both socially and financially, can be seen in rural communities.”

Mr Blake said it did not seem fair that from questionable footage, sheep farmers and rural communities were under financial pressure when animal right activists groups were gaining support by many means.

“Knowing the live export trade is an easy target, animal activists are motivated to extremes to bring propaganda to the front of public opinion,” he said.

“Australia is a world leader in animal welfare and is the only country to adopt Exporters Supply Chain Assurance System standards.”

Mr Blake was apprehensive before the rally, his third, not knowing if enough seating would match the crowd attendance.

“The rally exceeded expectations and there was an excellent representation from across all agricultural and community sectors,” he said.

“Barnaby brought spontaneous applause and support, but our State’s Agriculture Minister was out of touch.”

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