WA sheep and grain farmer Jamie Spence is calling on government to allow live sheep exports to continue for the sake of animal welfare and Australia’s Merino sheep industry.

The fourth generation farmer from Borden in WA’s Great Southern Region said while Australia remained an exporter of live sheep, animal welfare would be well monitored and maintained.

“A ban on live sheep to the Middle East would be a backward step for animal welfare because Australia holds the highest standard of welfare when it comes to the export market,” he said.

“Our Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System means exporters must have arrangements in place for the humane handling and slaughter of livestock in the importing country and my understanding is that Australia is the only country in the world with this type of regulation.”

“If Australia does not export sheep to the Middle East, we will be replaced by other countries with no regulation of welfare practices.”

Jamie said uncertainty about the future of the live sheep trade had also significantly affected market prices for Merinos.

“Older wethers which might normally reach $120 to $140 a head for the live sheep trade are now fetching only half of that price.”

The oversupply of older sheep now on the market was also dampening prices for young ewes.

“We can’t sell sheep to the market for a good price – young ewes which might have been $80 are now only getting $20,” he said.

For over 30 years, Jamie’s family has exported older wethers to the live sheep trade but this was now in doubt.

“We currently send a portion of our sheep to the live sheep trade and if it is banned – with the current backlogs there is in the domestic market – we feel we might not be able to keep operating our current sheep program.”

Jamie called on the Federal Government to abandon plans to ban live sheep exports to the Middle East.

“The sheep industry in WA and Australia as a whole is an integral part of the economy. I urge the politicians in Canberra to rethink the decision,” he said.

“If you value Aussie industries, protect Aussie farms. Keep farmers farming and ban the ban.”

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