South East Merino breeder Richard Halliday says the federal government needs to stop being "narrow sighted" trying to phase out an industry, live sheep export, which has made continual improvements in the past decade.
"There are regulations and legislation in place about how a business should operate. If they step outside these regulations it is the role of government to have oversight but governments shouldn't be coming in and saying you are gone," he said.
"We have come so far putting sheep on a boat, they will arrive on the other side of the world and lose less than one per cent, we can't even do that in the paddock."
Mr Halliday - who runs the Callowie Poll Merino stud with his wife Jacquie and son Angus at Lowan Vale near Bordertown - believes the federal government's dogged determination to end the live sheep trade is politically motivated rather than being based on facts.
"The Livestock Collective and the exporters have done a good job (explaining the industry) but it is the old 70 per cent of voters are from the cities and 30pc are from the country," he said.
"Most of the 70pc would not even know what live export was yet it has become popular to end live export and the government are out to get votes."
If live export is banned he says Australia will lose its ability to encourage importing countries to make cultural change for better animal welfare and will be replaced by another country with lower costs and lesser animal welfare standards.
Mr Halliday is optimistic about the long-term future of the sheep industry but says the ripple effects of the live export decision are already being seen in SA and eastern states' sheep and lamb prices as WA producers who have lost confidence sell off extra numbers.
"Three good seasons, especially in many pastoral areas have seen numbers build up across the country but some of the surplus young sheep from WA have come east and all of a sudden we have hit that critical mass where chillers are full," he said.
Mr Halliday, who spent more than a decade representing the livestock industry on numerous industry groups, remembers well the hasty shut down of live cattle trade to Indonesia in 2011 and is concerned tax payers may pay for another class action.
* ACM Agri, the publisher of this masthead, is proud to be the media partner for this campaign.
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