Agriculture Minister Ernie Bridge has approved a request from the Western Australian Pig Producers' Association for $150,000 from the Pig Industry Compensation Fund to be used to help develop new export opportunities.
Mr Bridge said the funds would be used to employ an Export Development Officer and cover travel and other expenses.
The Export Development Officer's work would include:
· developing market opportunities in the Asian and Pacific Rim area for fresh, chilled, frozen and/or processed pig meat products, and for live pigs for breeding or slaughter purposes;
· identifying new product opportunities, particularly for value-added products; and -
· co-ordinating supply sources from WA to export markets.
It was anticipated that the officer would take orders and fill them on a brokerage basis as soon as markets were identified.
Mr Bridge said increased production efficiency and a move by wool and grain farmers to diversify their base through pig production had caused supply to outstrip demand in WA.
"This situation will ensure reduced returns for pig producers unless action is taken to identify and tap into new market opportunities," the Minister said.
"The Pig Producers' Association has met this challenge in a positive and pro-active manner by seeking new export avenues to ensure a more secure future for all pig producers."
The pig industry is worth over $60 million annually to Western Australia, and the Pig Producers' Association believed that opening up even a small export niche could lift that worth to more than $100 million.
The primary purpose of the Pig Industry Compensation Fund, which currently stands at about $2 million, was the provision of compensation in the event of disease. However, specific allocations could be approved by the Minister for activities to promote and encourage the pig industry.