Rally gets behind export trade

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Bob GarnantCountryman
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In a show of support, sheep producers from across the State converged on Parliament House on Saturday to voice their continued approval of the live animal export industry.

The rally in support of the trade brought about 600 farmers to the city, far outnumbering the 80-odd anti-live export protestors.

Broomehill Merino sheep breeder Craig Dewar said he felt sorry for the cattle producers who were being victimised.

“The Federal Government’s live export cattle ban was done without research and it seems it was only decided on the bias aired on ABC’s Four Corners’ coverage of Indonesian abattoirs’, ” he said.

“From what I saw at the rally and in recent media reports, this same threat exists for sheep producers.”

Mr Dewar said it was apparent animal activists represented a small group, but carried a big voice with support from a hyped-up media campaign.

“Farmers have been doing it tough in recent years, ” he said. “After striving to look after our animals during the dry seasons, we are finally getting relief with better cattle, sheep and wool prices, only to find we have another battle on our hands.”

Vanessa Williams, of Mandurah, who was part of the group of anti-live export protestors, said she was there to voice her support for a total ban on export of animals within three to five years to end the live trade.

“Australia needs to have complete control of the meat industry to protect the welfare of the country’s animals, ” she said.

Ms Williams said Indonesia would have no option but to buy packaged meat from Australia.

Narrogin meat processor and Meat and Livestock Australia board member Peter Trefort, who spoke at the Parliament House rally, told Countryman that Indonesians could not afford packaged meat.

“They are only paying on average $2.93/kg and Australia could never compete against that value, ” he said.

Mr Trefort said it was important that Australia maintained the live export trade because it suited the country’s Mediterranean climate.

“Optimum growing conditions means we have to shift big numbers of livestock to new homes at one time, ” he said. “It makes sense to trade with Indonesia, which has a population of 200 million and is a close market.”

Mr Trefort said if a live export ban was imposed on the sheep trade, it would be catastrophic to the farming community.

Saying MLA had no knowledge of the recent animal cruelty situation as aired on Four Corners, he said there were opportunities to change how Indonesia operated.

But he said it must be done at their rate of inclusion. He said the only way to fairly compensate farmers for this recent episode would be to reinstate the trade.

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