WA Meat Marketing Co-operative Chairman Craig Heggaton has urged state and federal authorities to investigate reports that overseas investment trusts and companies are banning livestock production on the WA farmland they acquire.
Dr Heggaton said he shared concerns raised by Dowerin farmer and shire president Darrel Hudson this week that large tracts of valuable farmland in his district had been purchased by an overseas retirement fund, and re-allocated under new lease agreements that prohibited livestock.
“We understand that fences, watering points and other sheep infrastructure were removed soon after the new foreign owners took possession of around 3,000 hectares in the Dowerin area,” Dr Heggaton said.
“There have also been reports of similar actions to outlaw sheep and lamb production by both overseas and local corporate/trust investors in other areas of the State.
“As if it is not enough for farmers to cope with drought and threats from vegans and environmental activists, it now seems that our industry is faced with a major new threat from corporate investors, retirees and others who probably have no idea of the potential damage their actions can do to Australia’s rural economy.”
The chairman said WAMMCO was experiencing unprecedented global demand for its prime lamb product, whilst wool and sheepmeats were on a steep recovery curve.
He said sheep had also returned as an essential tool for farmers in controlling weed, soil fertility and erosion in crops, and boosting their annual income with record high returns from lamb. “With gross margins for sheep enterprises far exceding those of crop returns in the high and medium rainfall areas, new landlords are restricting the capacity of their local tenants to increase farm profitability.”
“Increased livestock production is critical not only to processors like WAMMCO in their efforts to maintain a viable prime lamb and mutton industry, it goes through to the shearers, truckies contractors and labourers who live in our country towns to support these industries.”
Dr Heggaton called for an investigation of the reports by the relevant State and Federal agencies and for them to identify any adverse, unfair sanctions involving livestock for further action.
“WAMMCO would also join other interested parties in showing our new investors the clear need for them to support our livestock industries,” he said.
Further details: Dr Craig Heggaton 0429 882 822. Media: Geoff Gare 0414 683 531
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