ESCAS hurting live export

28 Jan, 2013 01:00 AM
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WA Live Exporters Association (WALEA) chairman John Edwards said importers and exporters had always supported the principles of ESCAS but they needed some flexibility.
WA Live Exporters Association (WALEA) chairman John Edwards said importers and exporters had always supported the principles of ESCAS but they needed some flexibility.

WA is at risk of losing live export markets, as predicted by live exporters, because of the new exporting standards.

Since the introduction of the Exporters Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS), following the live cattle export ban to Indonesia in 2011, live exporters warned that a number of key markets would look elsewhere for product.

Saudi Arabia is already one major sheep market that is still yet to become ESCAS-compliant, which is a major concern for industry.

But in recent weeks, it is becoming clear that other countries are making moves to take advantage of Australia's lack of appeal because of ESCAS.

Qatar is reportedly looking to source small cattle from Kyrgyzstan with government representatives meeting recently to discuss the opportunity.

Somalia is reportedly preparing to export its first shipment of livestock in March, following the opening of a new animal health facility and quarantine centre in Mogadishu.

The centre was opened in mid-2012 and can hold up to 50,000 head of cattle and is being used to evaluate livestock for export to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt -some of WA's key live sheep and cattle markets.

Somaliland, now independent of Somalia, already exports millions of sheep and goats along with tens of thousands of cattle and camels.

Ireland is also taking advantage of Australia's strict guidelines, which in some cases are above world OIE standards, with the announcement that Ireland will begin live cattle exports to Egypt, Libya and Lebanon.

The deal is believed to be worth up to Euro 64 million ($A81m).

WA Live Exporters Association (WALEA) chairman John Edwards said that marketing opportunities for WA's fat tail breeds have now been replaced by overseas competitors.

"All of the Middle East countries which have the ability to produce fat tail sheep in numbers, have ramped that up as well," Mr Edwards said.

"Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea have ramped up their export businesses to take advantage of no competition from Australia.

"And in particular Saudi Arabia, where there is no Australian competition, be it Damaras or Merinos, they have just taken away that market place."

Mr Edwards said live exporters needed some flexibility to help build on established markets.

But it is clear the Australian Government has not got the message.

"It has been the long time argument by industry that ESCAS was developed as a model to restart Indonesia and the long time claim that the one size doesn't fit all markets," he said.

"And largely because of it (ESCAS) the marketing of Damara's and Awassis has taken a big hit because they have used them to compete with local indigenous fat tail breeds and because of Tier 1 marketing arrangements aren't admissible under ESCAS.

"So the opportunities for those animals are significantly reduced.

"We just feel some flexibility is required to grow markets and find homes for these alternative breeds which offer farmers and particularly pastoralists, great opportunities to diversify away from the Merino, which was effectively sending them broke in the pastoral regions.

"Animals requiring less husbandry inputs in the Wheatbelt were working out to be a great fit for a multi-enterprise operation and all of those things are seriously at risk now, because ESCAS doesn't afford importers and exporters opportunities to work outside ESCAS requirements.

"Importers and exporters have always supported the principles of ESCAS, but we need some flexibility within what we apply to each and every market that we go to."

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READER COMMENTS

Dog trainer
28/01/2013 6:30:14 AM, on Farm Weekly

Live export is inhumane and should be stopped from any country particularly to those countries that have no laws to protect livestock. It is not a good arguement to say that if Australia doesn't do it - other countries will. We are supposed to be a HUMANE society.
X Ag Socialist
28/01/2013 9:14:41 AM, on Farm Weekly

UNICEF Across Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti and Kenya, 8 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. A severe drought and escalating food prices led to famine in Somalia in 2011. Although the official famine declaration has now been downgraded, the situation in Somalia remains volatile. More than 320,000 children are malnourished and in need of urgent assistance. Now who exactly owns the millions of sheep shipped out of North Africa John? The men with guns I suspect .
Mark
1/02/2013 9:16:27 AM, on Farm Weekly

Just cause others may be able to step up and fill a void doesn't make the trade moral or right. Race to the bottom. Disgusted. ESCAS is only the start of what would be required to make this vile trade acceptable. And who can stand proudly in front of one of those ships of death smiling.
Lisa
1/02/2013 12:21:57 PM, on Farm Weekly

So Mark and Dog Trainer, as you are both obviously ethical thinkers, have you got a re-employment and re-settlement plan for the hundreds of livestock producers that will shortly go out of business? You'll also need to implement an Animal Reduction / Eradication strategy to go with that.
Tanya
1/02/2013 5:08:21 PM, on Farm Weekly

Lisa, I think that it is for live exporters to say what they think would be the best way for them to transition out of live export. We need a plan that supports the people and animals as they transition out, and coming up with a good plan requires input from the people who will be making the change. We are a humane country and I believe we can take better care of our farmers and our animals by supporting farmers to end, or exit, live export.

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