LAST NUMBERS: Ross Ellis and Ian Cullen out at the sheep sale in happier times.
LAST NUMBERS: Ross Ellis and Ian Cullen out at the sheep sale in happier times.

Bleak outlook for producers

WARWICK stock agents have raised concern over the future of the sheep industry in Warwick as devastated farmers offer up their last stock to the saleyards.

McDougall and Sons stock agent Ross Ellis said he'd seen a whopping 130 per-cent increase in the price of sheep as farming families get rid of their prized breeders.

"The reality is the female population being killed is far too high, whether it's sheep or cattle, it's not sustainable.

With lamb going for up to $250, Mr Ellis worried that Australia's dire straits was being taken advantage of by overseas competitors.

"Historically, we're at higher prices than normal for the simple reason that we're lacking in numbers drastically," he said.

"We also have overseas countries that recognise the value of mutton and lamb in the market, the Chinese particularly."

"Not that long ago, to get $40 a lamb wasn't doing that bad."

The choice to sell up was far from an easy decision for the region's farmers and Mr Ellis said the reactions he saw ranged from utter relief to heartbreak.

"For some of them, it's a relief, they don't have the stress of payments anymore.

"But some see themselves as a complete failure, even though I know they couldn't have done anything to prevent it. It's just the season, the season has beaten them."

Mr Ellis said he had also seen what happened when those farmers felt they had nothing left. "Politicians and that, need to know what it's like to walk out into a paddock and see nothing to look at but the debt they're in," he said.

"I heard a story where a guy sent a letter to the local police department telling him where to find him and what he was going to do … That's the hidden story, that's the story that should be told."

While Mr Ellis was putting the pressure on politicians to step up, he wanted city folks to get a taste of the climate here.

"Get out and support us. Get and live the experience," he said.

If you need crisis help, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.



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