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WA election: sheep flock, livestock and pasture research funding needed

An ongoing commitment towards the future of livestock research in Western Australia has been identified as an agricultural issue for the upcoming State Election, with sheep flock funding and a research institute forming part of the WAFarmers Policy Platform nine-point Wish List.

WAFarmers President Tony York said an allocation from the State Government of $350,000 per annum from consolidated revenue towards the maintenance of the two WA sheep research flocks was critical.

“The Genetic Research Flock and Breech Strike Research Flock provide the measurements for modern statistical methods and DNA technologies to estimate breeding values for traits such as disease resistance, meat quality and reproduction that otherwise are difficult and expensive to measure,” he said.

“The flocks are critical to WA’s sheep industry – trials cannot be conducted out in the industry because of the animal welfare implications that the experimental treatments impose on the animals in these flocks, so the studies can only be carried out by nationally approved research institutions with adequately trained skilled staff to comply with the Code of Ethics of experiments on animals.

“There are considerable opportunities for the State Government to capitalise on this long term investment with the WA sheep industry having a distinct home-ground advantage, though there is always more work and research to be conducted, which the government can assist with.”

Mr York said the relinquishment of research in animals by DAFWA as a result of budget cuts had also opened a rare opportunity to set up a unique entity in WA that could provide a scientific research base that is far more effective and efficient than any other state or national body operating now or envisaged for the future.

“With animal agriculture in WA being on the cusp of a sustained period of growth and enthusiasm for the sector on the rise, WA needs to be more flexible and adaptable to capitalise on these opportunities and sustain them into the longer-term,” he said.

“Our domestic market is changing with growing consumer expectations on how food is produced and how it impacts health, while there is also growing demand for quality animal protein into Asia and elsewhere, both of which boost confidence in the sector.

“To this end, WAFarmers requests the State Government allocate $10.5 million as a minimum commitment over an initial five-year period towards the establishment of an integrated partnership institution for livestock and pasture research in Western Australia.

“WAFarmers believes that a state-of-the-art institution, which would be the only centre of its kind in the country, would favourably position WA’s animal sector and attract the best scientists and development officers from around Australia and overseas.

“A centre of this kind would enable consolidated multi-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary research projects to be developed, with consequently greater chances of attracting competitive national funding, and this can only benefit the WA livestock industry.”

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