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Sheep cull  as export ban bites
The West Australian

A WA farmer is preparing to shoot thousands of sheep he cannot sell because of restrictions on live exports.

John Wainwright, the owner of Nalbarra Station, 160km south of Mt Magnet, said he had been trying to sell the sheep since November without success because key markets in the Middle East are off limits.

"I will have to shoot them because we have tried to sell them everywhere and just can't get rid of them," he said.

"I can only run a certain number of stock on the property, I can only get a certain amount of feed. We have no money, we have had no income for 12 months and we can't even afford to fix a windmill.

"We have sold off our car, we have sold off our caravan just to stay afloat."

Mr Wainwright said the sheep were bred for markets in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and would have been sold last year if the Federal Government had not introduced the controversial Exporters' Supply Chain Assurance System in response to concerns about animal welfare. The system requires approvals throughout the supply chain and of meat processing in overseas markets.

The Saudi market remains closed because no ESCAS approvals are in place and exporters imposed a voluntary ban on Bahrain last year after it rejected a shipment of WA sheep.

Primaries of WA stock agent Craig Walker said the export market for the damara breed of sheep on Mr Wainwright's property had dried up completely.

Mr Walker said the damara breed was popular in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain but not elsewhere. Australian abattoirs did not want to slaughter the sheep because they were not suitable for the local market.

A spokesman for Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said the Government was trying to improve market access and the ESCAS was introduced to ensure the long-term viability of the industry.