Peter Tomeo, Karradale Livestock Transport concerned about live export future

By Brooke Littlewood
May 13 2022 - 9:00pm
Transport companies will feel export hit

LIVESTOCK transport companies could be thrown into turmoil if live sheep voyages are ended.

Karradale Livestock Transport, owned by Peter Tomeo, is a major player in carting sheep and loading ships for WA's live export industry.

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Mr Tomeo estimated his business would put anywhere up to 40 per cent of sheep on boats in Fremantle.

And the live export trade would make up the same percentage of his business' revenue each year.

"Numbers aren't small by any stretch of the imagination," Mr Tomeo said.

"In our most recent trip, we transported 30,000-head of sheep into the feedlot facility at Peed.

"So if 60,000 sheep go on that boat, we would have put about 50pc in."

However it isn't just Karradale Livestock Transport that would feel the pinch of a live export phase out.

Mr Tomeo said the fallout on the agricultural sector was far greater than most people would be able to comprehend.

He said many sheep traders through the Avon Valley purchased sheep from the Great Southern region and had been for more than a decade.

Mr Tomeo said those farmers had set-up their businesses and breeding flocks for that market, producing extra numbers knowing they would go to a feedlotter.

"You get rid of live export and those producers then have to start finishing their lambs to a slaughterable grade when their businesses haven't been designed to do that," he said.

"They have been designed to get as much feed off the ground as they can while they have the grass.

"They then sell them off to farmers with thousands-and-thousands of hectares of hay and barley stubbles, who finish them off for live export."

Mr Tomeo estimated Karradale Livestock Transport would cart one animal at least three times starting at the farm to market, onto the Baldivis quarantine facility and finally Fremantle.

In those three trips - with 30,000-head of sheep - he said there could be 90,000 movements.

In any year, Mr Tomeo's business would do those trips for eight or nine boats, which means that figure is all of a sudden far greater.

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With those three transporting trips, Mr Tomeo said livestock agents had the opportunity to sell an animal at least two to three times.

But if the market wasn't there and his business was only running one trip, there would be the need for just one sale.

Mr Tomeo said fewer trips and fewer sales means less commission for livestock agents and trucking companies alike.

He said sheep producers would feel the impact of that too - directly in their hip pocket.

"The sheep producer would get less revenue, which is not good for the economy," Mr Tomeo said.

"For someone like us with trucks, the impact of fewer trips would reach fuel companies, tyre companies, repair shops and everything else that goes along with supporting an industry that's no longer there.

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"Not to mention the tens-of-thousands-of-tonnes of fodder which gets consumed at quarantine facilities and on the live export boat.

"All of a sudden the straw market is gone and the two pellet mills in WA are forced to close down - I could go on all day about the reach it would have."

Mr Tomeo struggled to make sense of Labor's policy, particularly given the trade was performing at such a high standard from an animal welfare point-of-view.

He said if it were for something untoward or of low standard he could understand the decision.

"Live export is a huge part of WA's economy," Mr Tomeo said.

"Why would they want to ban it, especially after the hard work that has gone into all the rules and regulations.

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"It makes absolutely no sense to us."

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