THE Nationals WA has been pushing the State Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan to uphold her commitment to change the definition of Western Australian lamb by July 1, 2019.
Federal Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud announced the new definition of lamb in late 2018, putting Australia in line with New Zealand's definition.
The State government is required to amend the WA Meat Industry Authority Regulations to reflect this change.
The new definition of lamb will be a "young sheep under 12 months of age or which does not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear".
This will enable slightly older sheep, which are typically in good condition, to be sold under the more valuable lamb name.
Roe MLA Peter Rundle said he had been contacted several times recently by growers, livestock agents and processors to get clarity on the timeline for the new lamb definition.
"As a grower, I know only too well the impact the different definitions have on the income of farmers who produce lamb," Mr Rundle said
"We are at a critical time of the year where lambs are breaking their incisor teeth and the values are reduced under the current system.
"The change in definition means that locally produced lambs will be marketed on an equal footing to those in the Eastern States."
Under questioning in the Legislative Council from The Nationals WA agriculture spokesman Colin de Grussa, Ms MacTiernan said she wanted the new regulations implemented by July 1, 2019.
"The minister couldn't make a commitment to meet the July 1 deadline," Mr de Grussa said.
"I intend to keep the pressure on to ensure this deadline is reached, so our WA producers are working to the same standards as other producers across the country."
In Ms MacTiernan's response to Mr de Grussa's question, she said that it had been a frustrating issue because she had "signed off on these amendments four times dating back to August last year".
"The big delay has been going through the regulatory impact process, even though it is a form of deregulation," Ms MacTiernan said.
"Anyhow, that has been the process and we will have regulations drafted.
"There will be amendments to the WA Meat Industry Authority Amendment Regulations so that those regulations line up with the new national definition.
"We have spoken to all the relevant sheep industry interests.
"The new definition of lamb will be a 'young sheep under 12 months of age or which does not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear'.
"The words 'in wear' are the critical difference.
"I have made it very clear that we want these regulations to be implemented and gazetted by July 1, 2019."