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Sheep exporters urged to shift focus
WAFarmers president Dale Park on his Badgingarra property. Picture: Danella Bevis/ The Countryman

Sheep exporters should focus on Middle Eastern countries that have been long-standing customers after a shipment was rejected by Bahrain and Pakistan, the WA Farmers Federation has urged.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has resumed granting export licences to sheep producers following a trade impasse triggered by health concerns surrounding a shipment of about 21,000 animals.

Estimates of the number of sheep that were culled in Pakistan after being rejected in Bahrain vary between 700 and 7000, a DAFF spokesman said, but the correct figure was probably at the lower end of that scale.

The importers had breached the terms of memoranda of understanding in knocking the shipment back, WAFarmers president Dale Park said.

Mr Park said exporters should instead focus on Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan.

“We can’t afford another fiasco like we’ve got going on in Pakistan, so the best way to avoid that is don’t go back to the places that cause you trouble,” he told AAP today.

“And we’ve got plenty of markets that really do want our sheep.

“If we want the trade to keep going, we really have to keep looking after those people who have looked after us over time.”

Mr Park said the problem in Pakistan was related to “intertwining political and financial” issues, not the health of the animals, and there was an aversion to “losing face”.

It wasn’t worth it for exporters to send their sheep to Bahrain or Pakistan if there was a chance they would be rejected, dealing another blow to the live sheep trade.

“What we have to recognise is the whole trade is on a knife-edge,” Mr Park said.

DAFF says exporters must now take extra measures to address possible delays or refusals to unload.