Plenty of challenges ahead for live exports

29 Dec, 2011 04:00 AM
The first live cattle shipment post the live cattle export ban to Indonesia, the Lincoln Express, leaves the Wyndham Port.
The first live cattle shipment post the live cattle export ban to Indonesia, the Lincoln Express, leaves the Wyndham Port.

WHAT an interesting year it has been for the live export industry.

After what had started as a reasonable year just like any other things certainly changed on May 30, 2011.

Families thoughout the country were shown horrific footage of abattoirs in Indonesia of cattle being whipped, kicked and hit on ABC's Four Corners episode A Bloody Business.

The controversial broadcast led to a massive public outcry for the close of the $300 million industry, directed by animal activists groups Animals Australia, RSPCA and GetUp.

And on June 6, they got their wish.

Federal Agricultural Minister Joe Ludwig banned all live cattle exports to Indonesia indefinitely.

The ban left pastoralists and farmers with nowhere to go.

This led to the entire agricultural industry, from exporters, to pastoralists, to students, to producers, coming together as one to fight for the survival of the live export industry.

After protests throughout the country, the month-long battle to get the industry back up and running came to an end, with permits being issued for 180,000 head of cattle on July 7.

But the effect from the ban continued.

The first shipment from Australia wasn't until August 11 and the first shipment from WA wasn't until August 18.

That meant WA's pastoralist went without a shipment to their biggest live cattle market for 73 days.

The next issue following the ban was compensation or assistance to those affected with the Federal Government offering just $25,000 for businesses and pastoralists.

It was a frivilous offer and the industry responded the only way it knows how - working harder.

Since the shipments resumed in August it has been full steam ahead for exporters, who are expecting to send around 410,000 head of cattle to Indonesia by the end of this year.

This year also included some record shipments with Wellard Rural Exports ship, the MV Ocean Shearer, carrying 25,817 head of cattle earlier this month.

The Bill Farmer Review was released on October 21, which outlined the reforms to be undertaken by the industry and also gave the guarantee there would be no rash decisions on the industry until the reforms were complete at the end of 2013.

The review has raised some doubt that live exports may slow in 2012 given the need for countries and exporters to build towards secured supply chains.

WA Live Exporters Association (WALEA) chairman John Edwards said the high Australian dollar and the lack of supply could also cause problems for exporters next year.

"With live sheep exports we have obviously had some tough times with a very volatile Australian dollar in terms of setting up good trading terms with the Middle Eastern customers," Mr Edwards said.

"There has been good numbers shipped to most of the markets we deal with in the Middle East and most of those have had severe pressure on them through competition with places such as Saudi Arabia.

"But the Federal Government's required change on the development of secured supply chains has the potential to significantly slow down live sheep exports to the region next year.

"Our three major importing countries in Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, are all tranche one markets and need to be secured as supply chains by March 1, 2012, with all the other markets coming online by September 1.

"As a consequence it has the potential that we could see the live sheep exports come back early next year."

The live export issues continued just two weeks ago with Indonesia announcing a cut to their Australian live cattle imports to 280,000 head of cattle - down from 520,000 in 2010.

Mr Edwards said 2011 had been a challenging year for the live export industry.

"We live with issues post-2010, with video footage in the Middle East, which put pressure on us this year in a number of areas," Mr Edwards said. "A range of factors such as competition, the volatility of the Australian dollar, stock supply in Australia and the high stock prices all impacted the ability of getting numbers into markets."

Mr Edwards said before the live cattle export ban to Indonesia, live cattle exports were running as normal with buoyant trading opportunities to Russia and Turkey for feeder, slaughter and breeding cattle.

He said Egypt had also provided another avenue for the heavy cattle, which were due to be sent to Indonesia and had exceeded the 350kg weight limit.

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) figures at the time of press showed WA had exported 230,172 head of cattle of the 565,654 cattle exported from Australia, as of October 31 this year.

MLA figures also showed at the same time, WA had exported 1,405,507 sheep of Australia's total sheep exports of 2,144,403.

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30/12/2011 5:22:43 AM, on Farm Weekly

Has anything changed for the animals being exported? Not really. Now we want to send more animals to the Middle East where the abuse continues. The MLA continues to be a bloodsucking tick on the backs of producers. Smarten up, farmers. Chilled beef exported from our own abattoirs in northern Australia has immense public support. We just need the political will to do it.
Mary G
30/12/2011 5:41:00 AM, on Farm Weekly

Any industry that relies on secrecy and animal cruelty is vulnerable to exposure, and economic disaster. No matter the economic benefits, it cannot morally be based on such horrific animal cruelty. There are many people now fighting for the survival of live exports, due to being dependent on a flawed and fragile and unsustainable industry. There needs to be a turn-around, but it's inevitable that people's lives must adapt and change with this industry's decline. What we need is some innovation and creative thinking to replace the live export industry, not keep "flogging a dead horse".
30/12/2011 2:12:44 PM, on Farm Weekly

No secrecy here Mary those cattle boats are hard to hide in Broome or Darwin and the trucks use the same roads as everyone else . If a random white woman can walk into a random ab at night no secrecy there ever . If you are complaining that hippies cant chain themselves to the wharf well thats a occupational safety problem . Try walking in to Narrikup or Kattaning when the chain is operating you cant just wander in off the street .
30/12/2011 3:05:05 PM, on Farm Weekly

The only challenge facing Live Exports is compassion. It does not exist in this callous industry. I never hear one word from the cattle producers or the MLA about animal cruelty. It is all about money. They whinge, and whine, but, never spare a thought for their suffering livestock.
30/12/2011 3:43:00 PM, on Farm Weekly

Sadly, all the Indonesian exposure achieved was worse cruelty for the animals, as they are shipped far longer distances to equally severe torture. All the so-called 'reviews' achieved was giving the parasitic MLA open slather to be even worse than they already were, simply citing from the MLA handbook of animal abuse. This year also proved that, no matter how egregious the abuse, politicians remain unmoved, as do farmers and exporters. And they wonder why decent, hardworking Australians are so bitterly, deeply ashamed of them all.
1/01/2012 9:15:54 AM, on Farm Weekly

Mary G, no-one is"flogging a dead horse".LE is alive and well and now,thanks to extremist activist groups pushing for such dissoriented,unjust and perplexing actions, the public has been alerted to what it is activists really are. An unbalanced,uncouth,uncaring minority group,egged along by a well financed, even smaller group of extreme agricultural terrorists, who's agenders go way beyond the general public understanding of what they are trying to achieve.With clever use of social media they have callously disrupted an industry,manipulated the public,and influenced Gov.They are the true crims
3/01/2012 7:17:37 PM, on Farm Weekly

You are fools if you think supporters wanting to ban this industry are a minority group. Neither are they unbalanced, uncouth or agricultural terrorists. You need to realise the degrogatory comments you like to make about common everyday, hardworking "normal" people who pay taxes and vote are offensive and insulting and does nothing to induce sympathy to your situation. In fact it has the opposite effect. The only real "victims" here are the animals. Yet you all remain unmoved by the suffering you cause. Now tell me who are the callous, manipulative ones?
4/01/2012 4:50:36 PM, on Farm Weekly

So Sarah.Lets look at the situation.Au cattle shipped to Indo are now slaughtered in a more humane and supervised way but we are no longer seen as a reliable trading partner.The Indos are now pushing self sustainability.As they have had much legal and illegal clearing over an extended period this will now compliment their push to increase herd numbers.They will require less beef live and boxed from Au and those Indo cattle will continue to be slaughtered in un-monitered ways.They will also require more live-unmonitered shipping between Islands.Wow,and we're the fools?And yes,you are a minority
5/01/2012 6:28:54 PM, on Farm Weekly

And the reason you are a minority is because the rest of Australia could not be,and is not, so blatently stupid. That even includes our PM,The opposition leader, and the majority of the house.There is one exception though, and that is JL but hes more than a crumb short of a cooky anyway!
6/01/2012 1:30:35 PM, on Farm Weekly

84% of decent, hardworking Australians who have grieved over this animal torture are not a minority. Monitoring? Don't make us laugh, the so-called 'independent' auditors are employed and paid by the exporters, as are the veterinarians. Business as usual, corrupted by the exporters. And amid all the whinging and whining of the farmers and the exporters, it is OUR taxpayer dollars which (absolutely againsy MY will) that have been thrown at you. The government failed to hear the screams and see the blood and terror of the animals, typically, it just listened to the loudest whingers. SHAME!!!
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