Startling findings from two different surveys have highlighted the devastating impact the proposed live sheep export ban is having in Western Australia, according to the country’s peak farm body.
Data released today from Rabobank shows that while confidence edged higher nationally, WA bucked the trend recording a further dip into negative territory. The same survey showed overall confidence in the sheep industry is down from last quarter, and there was an 8% jump in the number of producers nervous about government policies and intervention.
Just last week, data from Australian Wool Innovation and Meat & Livestock Australia showed a staggering 90 point drop in sentiment among WA sheep producers – making that the only state to have a negative outlook for the coming 12 months.
NFF President Fiona Simson said the results should be a wake-up call to the Government and prompt a rethink of its activist-led live sheep export ban.
“Confidence among WA sheep producers is through the floor. It’s no surprise given the cloud of uncertainty Canberra has blown their way.
“We’re starting to see the real cost of this policy, and it’s still only early days.
“These aren’t just numbers. They’re real farming families who don’t know what their future holds. They can’t plan or invest because they don’t know if they’ll have a market to sell to.
“This is the chaos that happens when you have animal rights extremists dictating the agenda in Canberra.
“The Government needs to look closely at these numbers and decide whether it wants to listen to the evidence, or the activists.”
Chief Executive of Sheep Producers Australia, Bonnie Skinner, said the sudden drop in sentiment in WA was cause for concern.
“Sheep producers need confidence that the government sets policy that is responsible and considered in order for producers to continue to invest their time and livelihoods into agriculture.
“Producers are losing confidence that a commercial sheep industry will still exist should live sheep export by sea be phased out.
“Live export plays a vital role in underpinning competition that drives a viable and sustainable sheep industry,” Ms Skinner explained.
Ms Simson also called on the Government to consider data from research firm Voconiq released last week, showing an uplift in community support for the live sheep trade.
“The Australian public understands the importance of this trade to the diet and nutrition of people in the Middle East, and they don’t want to see the trade shut down at any cost.
“The Government’s argument that this trade has lost social licence isn’t backed up by the evidence – just activist talking points.”