WALSA backs out of bid for Boyanup yards funds

Melissa WilliamsCountryman
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The WA Livestock Salesmen's Association (WALSA) has withdrawn its request for State Government funding to help with upgrades to the Boyanup Saleyards.

It was revealed in the _Countryman _ last week that the association was seeking access to some of the $2.2 million earmarked for investment into the Boyanup facility from the proceeds of the sale of the Midland Saleyards in 2010.

Agriculture Minister Terry Redman said the Government had been in discussions with WALSA, made up of Elders and Landmark, to provide some funds to improve occupational health and safety and animal welfare at the Boyanup Saleyards.

But a spokesman from the minister's office said the WALSA request was withdrawn early this week and it was notified that WALSA would proceed with the upgrades on its own.

Mr Redman had said the provision of any government funds to the Boyanup saleyards would have included consideration of other parties (agents) being able to use the facility.

WA livestock selling agents Westcoast Livestock and Primaries Livestock have stressed the need for a major multi-agent livestock selling facility in the South West to increase competition in the market and benefit producers.

This issue is likely to be brought to a head within the next five to 10 years when the WALSA lease on the Boyanup Saleyards site expires.

The Shire of Capel manages the crown land on which the saleyards sits and it has recently reviewed its lease to WALSA for five years, with a further five-year option.

Shire chief executive Paul Sheedy said the long-term Boyanup townsite strategy proposed that the saleyards site be used for residential dwellings.

"Ideally, the current saleyards site is not the best site as the Boyanup town site expands and there is potential for conflicting interests to emerge," he said.

"We have had very few complaints about the saleyards, but the reality is that if we are going to have a major saleyard facility in the South West in the long term, it wouldn't be built in a townsite.

"The saleyards have been here for a long time, but it has come to a point where we need to progress this issue.

"The Shire of Capel would like the saleyards to remain in the South West, but not necessarily in our shire.

"Capel or Dardanup are more central and it would be more sensible to put the saleyards in that vicinity."

Mr Sheedy said the Shire of Capel would seek a meeting with the State Government to clarify its long-term plans for the Boyanup Saleyards through the Regional Saleyard Strategy, developed in 2010.

He said the Shire would be seeking a commitment from the Government before the next election, due in March 2013, to start planning for its relocation.

"Funding will be a big issue, as it will take $12 to 15 million to build a modern facility," he said.

WALSA president Leon Giglia said it would spend $1.2 to $1.7 on ongoing improvements at the Boyanup Saleyards without Government support and, coupled with the amount it had already spent, was committed to the site for the long term.

He said WALSA members had contributed significant funding to the Boyanup Saleyards over many years and it was now self-funded through yard fees.

Mr Giglia said opening up the saleyards to third parties could be something to be considered.

However, he said at present no producer was precluded from selling their livestock through the facility - but he conceded they would need to use Landmark or Elders as their agent to do so.

He said numbers of livestock going through the yards were increasing and sales were well supported by a range of buyers.

"Having more agents would not necessarily lead to more buying options (or competition) for producers," he said.

Mr Giglia said the Boyanup Saleyards were servicing the State's livestock industry well.

But Westcoast Livestock cattle agent Phil Petricevich and Primaries cattle agent Max Cunnington both said producers in the South West would benefit from having a multi-agent livestock selling facility in the region.

Mr Petricevich said it was difficult for his company and Primaries to access any saleyards in the South West and in the short term the Boyanup facility should be opened up for all agents to use, with the current system of yard fees funding its maintenance and upgrades.

He said in the longer term his company would like to see a multi-agent, state-of-the-art regional saleyards centre set up to replace Boyanup.

"Boyanup is out of date and should be relocated, so why keep pouring money into it," he said.

Mr Cunnington agreed there was a big need for a major regional livestock selling complex to be established in the South West.

He said Primaries was forced to negotiate livestock sales direct to processor, exporter or farm to farm for its South West clients, as it could not access the Boyanup Saleyards and transport costs to Muchea and Mt Barker were prohibitive.

"If we could get access to Boyanup, it would boost numbers going through those sales and increase competition for the benefit of producers," he said.

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