Live export uncertainty could be ‘nail in coffin’

Zach RelphCountryman
Sheep loading on to the Al Messilah at Fremantle Port.
Camera IconSheep loading on to the Al Messilah at Fremantle Port. Credit: Cally Dupe/Cally Dupe

A vivid report into WA’s live-shipping sector warns about the possible “demise of crucial support services in the supply chain” if the embattled industry’s future is not shored up.

The latest Mecardo study, completed with Meat and Livestock Australia and LiveCorp, acknowledged live-sheep exports were a pillar of the Australian economy.

However, it noted a cloud of uncertainty was hovering over WA businesses associated with the industry amid ongoing doubts about its long-term future.

Of the more than 60 people interviewed, the report said owner-operators, shearers and hay balers were among industry figures concerned about the trade.

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“There is a widespread concern under the surface of Western Australia’s sheep industry that continued uncertainty, instability and negativity will see the demise of crucial support services in the supply chain,” it read.

“This would be the ‘nail in the coffin’ for sheep farmers, who are resoundingly fed up with the portrayal of their industry and increasing regulations, compounding the struggle of recent poor seasons.”

The study, titled Impact Of The Live Sheep Export Trade’s Self-Imposed Moratorium and Regulatory Changes, was released on Tuesday.

It comes after the live-export trade implemented an industry-imposed shipping standstill on trade last year in a bid to combat the northern hemisphere summer’s hot conditions during voyages to the Middle East.

The industry-imposed three-month moratorium was initially set to be in place from June 1 to August 31, before the Federal Government extended it until mid-September.

The Federal Government is mulling over three shipping options.

The Mecardo report said “the full impact of the moratorium on the entire WA value chain must be considered” in an effort to “secure a sustainable and valuable live sheep export trade for all participants into the future”.

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