Levy push for SA Dog Fence upgrades

New dog fence levy under consideration for producers


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STATEWIDE SUPPORT: Roger Farley, Kybybolite, supports all SA sheep producers paying for Dog Fence upgrades, but says it should be achieved through existing levies.

STATEWIDE SUPPORT: Roger Farley, Kybybolite, supports all SA sheep producers paying for Dog Fence upgrades, but says it should be achieved through existing levies.

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A temporary industry levy is being considered by SA's livestock industry to raise the $5m it needs to contribute to the $25m upgrade of the SA Dog Fence.

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THE upgrade of the dilapidated SA Dog Fence is a step closer, with the state government confirming a $10 million budget commitment to the massive project across five years, matching the federal government's $10m.

RELATED: $25 million committed to SA dog fence upgrade

What remains to be established is how SA's livestock industry will raise its $5m share.

A BDO Econsearch report released in April showed that replacing sections of the Dog Fence would generate a net benefit to SA of up to $120.3m over 20 years.

Stock Journal understands a proposal for a new temporary sheep transaction levy of 12 cents a head, specifically to pay for the renewal of more than 1500 kilometres of the fence, is close to being announced.

Pastoralists' annual financial commitment through the SA Dog Fence Board may also step up from $1.35 a square kilometre to about $2/sqkm, based on the area of their pastoral leases.

Stock Journal also understands feral goat sales could be levied $1/hd.

According to the SA Dog Fence Board's 2017-18 report, it collected $327,000 from pastoralists for fence maintenance, while the SA Sheep Industry Fund contributed $232,780 to repairs in the same period.

RELATED: Dog Fence concerns raised in report

Orroroo woolgrower Geoff Power says industry has a "once in a lifetime" opportunity for government and industry to work together to replace the fence.

He said it was imperative industry worked out how to secure the money quickly so construction could begin early next year.

"While some people may say 'it's not my problem if we lose the industry in the north of the state', all the ewes that end up down south mated to Border Leicesters or Dorsets or Suffolks will not be there," he said. "It is going to affect everyone in the end if we don't rebuild the fence."

Mr Power said the 2019 tally so far from the state's official trapping program was more than 300 dogs, but he expected closer to 1000 dogs may have been shot and trapped inside the fence, including those trapped privately.

"One place a trapper went into a couple of months ago, he got 130 dogs in two weeks and that would be all the easy dogs, the cunning ones are still there," he said.

Any levy or collection mechanism will only be in place until the $5m is raised. If it is raised in five years, it will stop. If it is raised in 4.5 years, it will stop then. - Livestock SA president Joe Keynes

"We have had two here in Orroroo in the last two to three months and they are proper dingoes."

Livestock SA president Joe Keynes would not confirm details of the proposed levy, but said ongoing consultation would occur with all sheep and goat industry stakeholders before any decision was made.

"We need to consult and make sure everyone is comfortable with the methodology of how the money is raised," he said.

"Any levy or collection mechanism will only be in place until the $5m is raised. If it is raised in five years, it will stop. If it is raised in 4.5 years, it will stop then."

Mr Keynes says sourcing additional funds from the SIF (a voluntary grower contribution where sheep producers pay a 55c/hd transaction levy) is not an option as the monies are fully-allocated to important projects, including biosecurity.

But Kybybolite producer Roger Farley, who put forward a successful motion at the 2018 Livestock SA annual general meeting calling for industry to contribute $1m a year to upgrading the fence, says it was never his intention for producers to be hit with a new levy.

Instead, he said it should come from reprioritising present SIF-funded projects.

"Until there is full disclosure from the SA Sheep Advisory Group as to where all the levy money has gone, I can't justify supporting any more levy money being pulled from growers," he said.

"Going back four or five years, the surplus (in the fund) was about $4m-$5m - where has that gone?"

Mr Farley says it is only fair the whole state contributed to the fence, with northern producers paying significant amounts of money into the SIF towards the ovine johnes disease and footrot programs which were of little benefit to them.

"If you draw a line from Renmark to Port Pirie to Streaky Bay there would nearly be as many sheep north of the line as south of the line in a normal year, very few of them, if any would of done abattoir surveillance for OJD," he said.

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