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WAFarmers calls for ‘urgent’ improvements at Boyanup Saleyards

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Adam PoulsenCountryman
Boyanup Saleyards.
Camera IconBoyanup Saleyards. Credit: Danella Bevis/Countryman

WA’s peak farming advocacy body has weighed in on the debate over Boyanup Saleyards, claiming the “archaic” livestock facility “fails to meet basic animal welfare needs” and calling for “drastic upgrades”.

In a scathing statement, WAFarmers highlighted the need for a new purpose-build facility to replace the South West’s only cattle saleyard, but said in the meantime “urgent” improvements were needed.

It comes after Capel Shire Council’s decision in January to grant a new 10-year lease to the WA Livestock Salesmen’s Association.

WALSA, which has leased the Boyanup site since 2002, has been criticised by some in the livestock industry who claim it has done little to improve ageing infrastructure and address animal welfare concerns.

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WAFarmers Livestock Section president and Myalup farmer Geoff Pearson said cattle producers were concerned about the ageing facility’s ability to meet safety and welfare regulations.

“Until the industry can transition into a new facility, considerable upgrades are required to meet current regulatory compliance standards,” he said.

“Boyanup Saleyards have been operating for more than 60 years — how can WA’s industry be expected to operate in an archaic facility? Modern practices need to apply.”

WAFarmers Livestock Section president Geoff Pearson at his Myalup farm.
Camera IconWAFarmers Livestock Section president Geoff Pearson at his Myalup farm. Credit: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

Mr Pearson said WAFarmers supported the lease extension but the deal must not “override the need for a new facility”.

“The existing yards fail to meet basic animal welfare needs such as adequate shade, multiple watering points and management of livestock in extreme weather events,” he said.

“The current facility doesn’t meet modern welfare practices, but factors such as OH&S, environmental conditions, operating standards, ease of access and user amenities require upgrades as well.”

WALSA chairman Dean Hubbard told Countryman he was aware of the need for upgrades but disputed claims Boyanup Saleyards failed to meet animal welfare guidelines.

“As agents, we have to provide facilities that meet guidelines, be that animal welfare or staff welfare, (and) we meet every guideline that’s presented,” he said.

WALSA’s current lease is due to expire in June.

Mr Hubbard said WALSA — a joint venture between Elders and Nutrien Livestock, which owns the yard infrastructure — had every intention to upgrade but could not act until the new lease was signed.

Punters at the Boyanup Saleyards.
Camera IconPunters at the Boyanup Saleyards. Credit: Danella Bevis/Countryman

“Once we get this new lease signed, we will see some pretty quick action there with regards improvements to make it safer for animals, safer for our staff, and for whoever’s coming into the yards,” he said.

“There’s some pretty significant work needs to be done, but we can’t spend any money there until we get this lease signed.

“If for whatever reason the lease didn’t go ahead, well we’ve just lost money, and it really boils down to that.”

Capel council approved the new lease on several conditions including that a shade sail or solid roofing be erected over all cattle pens, and that WALSA detail further animal welfare improvements in a capital upgrade plan.

WALSA was told in no uncertain terms that if it did not meet those conditions, it risked defaulting on the lease.

The council also hinted it would be the final lease granted to WALSA, promising to formally commence work to find a location for a new saleyard within the shire.

“We’re also part of the conversation going forward with a new facility… we’re looking at being part of that solution,” Mr Hubbard said.

“I understand WAFarmers’ frustrations, but it’d be far more productive and constructive if they were actually part of the solution rather than the problem.”

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