Livestock Industry Grapples with Price Plunge: Crisis Talks and Strategies Update on the Country Hour
State livestock bodies met on Friday for crisis talks on livestock prices. Plummeting prices for sheep and cattle producers off guard after the highs of last year. Travis Tobin CEO of Livestock SA told Karen Hunt that to call focussed on developing strategies to help producers.
While the long term outlook for red meat and wool remains strong and positive, obviously producers are facing difficult times in the near term and that's something that we don't know how long will last. So price declines that we've seen have been faster and deeper than expected and a number of issues converge to that. Then on the back of that, we've also seen seasonal conditions start to deteriorate with El Nino officially announced during the week and some states are already experiencing drought conditions. We're getting everyone together to see what sort of strategies we'll be pursuing independently and collectively to help support producers.
What strategies did you agree upon?
There are a few things states are doing as they need to for local conditions. People on the call were sharing what they're doing at a local level, but more broadly, some of the themes that we've discussed are:
- These issues strengthen the case to maintain the live sheep export trade because we've seen the impacts of that already, which is adding to the problems we've got it. It makes no sense to ban a legal trade that leads the world in animal welfare outcomes and all it does is remove another market for the industry.
- There were also discussion around processing capacities and we know it's not that simple, but there probably are things government can do around labour and other necessary support.
- Talking about other sorts of imposts that are coming like mandatory eID. Obviously the government mandated that last year and the price of tags has always been a sensitive issue so looking to government for more support. With the price of sheep at the moment, it makes the cost of the tag proportionally to the value of the animal even higher.
- The other one is new taxes like the biosecurity protection levy that federal government is looking to introduce from 1 July next year. It's not something that's been supported by industry in the first place, let alone applying new taxes to industry at times like this.
What were the plans for SA that came out of this discussion?
We’ve already been talking for a few weeks now to relevant agencies about the support that's going to be needed including PIRSA, Rural Business Support etcetera. Some of the things with PIRSA is making sure that the advice around humane destruction and best disposal methods for carcasses to manage biosecurity risks is going to be available and assistance will be there.
That obviously comes with a human element as well, so making sure there is the social support networks, through FaBs mentors and Rural Business Support, those sorts of things. The other more broad government issues I was talking about earlier obviously have implications at a state level as well. We have had a number of calls from members over the past few weeks and that's why we've been talking to these other agencies about, that have a role and making sure people are aware there is some assistance through the difficult times ahead for our industry. As I said, the long term outlook remains positive, but there are definitely difficult times in the near future and we need to make sure producers can get the help they need to deal with those issues.
Are there plans for more calls like this in the future?
Yes, it's going to be a regular touch point. As you know, Karen, this issue is evolving fairly quickly so there'll be another hook up in a couple of weeks and the frequency of it will depend upon how quickly things change or not.
You can also listen to the interview on the Country Hour here.