An end to live sheep and lamb exports could jeopardise positive industry pricing trends, according to a group of Deniliquin and district producers who have called for an assurance that local input will be sought before any ban is put in place.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Deniliquin producer Graham Allitt said it is important Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley’s Private Member’s Bill to phase out live exports does not impact on the industry.
He said the group’s concerns about the ban were recently sent to Ms Ley, who then offered to come to Deniliquin and speak with producers.
‘‘There are some farmers who are against live exports, but the majority, we believe, want it to continue in some form,’’ Mr Allitt said.
‘‘We want to be able to talk it through and not go through a situation like we saw in the Northern Territory where live (cattle) exports were stopped virtually overnight.
‘‘It caused a lot of damage to farmers in the Northern Territory and at the top of both Queensland and Western Australia.
‘‘We know the sheep industry at the moment is in a really good place, particularly with sheep and wool prices.
‘‘That has not happened overnight, it’s taken 15 years of hard work, and if live exports are stopped that’s two million sheep back on the market in Australia to abattoirs, who just won’t be able to take them all. That in turn will drive the good prices down.
‘‘And Farrer (electorate) has one of the largest holdings of sheep of the Australian electorates.’’
Mr Allitt agreed footage which showed dead and dying sheep aboard a carrier ship enroute to the Middle East was disturbing, but he said all solutions raised to date will punish the farmers.
‘‘The farmers do their best to deliver stock in good condition to the ships, and then it seems something is happening from there.
‘‘It is worth noting, however, that most ships only have a one per cent loss, but this needs to come down on the people carrying the stock and not as a punishment on farmers.
‘‘The ships to the Middle East are all very old and probably need some investment.’’
Ms Ley will meet with sheep and lamb producers at the Sportsman’s Arms Hotel in north Deniliquin tomorrow from 4pm.
Mr Allitt said it’s a chance for producers to put their views forward, whether they agree or disagree with the live export ban.
Ms Ley is also expected to discuss drought subsidies and assistance available to producers, and any other livestock industry related topics raised at the forum.