Life after Joe Ludwig

01 Dec, 2011 04:00 AM
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Wellards Rural shipping manager Tim O'Donnell who spoke at the WA Northern Beef Forum in Broome last week.
Wellards Rural shipping manager Tim O'Donnell who spoke at the WA Northern Beef Forum in Broome last week.

WA beef cattle producers and industry representatives are ready to take the nation's live cattle export industry to new heights.

It's a case of Life after Ludwig, a reference to the knee-jerk decision by Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig to stop the trade following strong lobbying by animal welfare activists.

Since the ban on live exports in June this year, the beef industry in northern Australia has had to face a stream of unparalleled complications and difficulties, especially in regards to the public perception and image of those involved with the industry.

But Wellards Rural shipping manager Tim O'Donnell believes that through the system of supply chain assurance, the industry will bounce back from this setback.

Speaking at the WA Northern Beef Forum in Broome recently, he said the industry would recover.

"But it is imperative we don't take the pressure off and get complacent," he said. "Especially after all the work that has been done to put systems in place to ensure something like this never happens again."

The major exporting facilities of the North West are located in Broome and Wyndham and despite the ban Broome has seen over 90,000 head go through its facility since the start of the year, which is almost the same number as last year.

"It is for this reason we can't take our foot off the pedal," Mr O'Donnell said.

"Despite the fact we are almost in the same position we were in last year, we must keep moving forward and make changes to the industry to ensure it's survival into the future.

"It will be easy for people to sit back now but we have to keep the pressure on."

Supply Chain Assurance (SCA) is the new management system put in place by industry bodies following the recommendations of the Farmer Report to ensure each and every individual beast is monitored and tracked from discharge right through to the point of slaughter.

"It is all about having a transparent supply chain with all information available to the public and all livestock accounted for right throughout the system," Mr O'Donnell said.

"We also have an independent third party auditing and verifying each section of the chain."

SCA has only been in place since the ban and due to its short time in operation there have been no shipments that have gone the whole way through the system.

"We haven't had any cattle go right through from discharge, export, feedlotting to the point of slaughter since the system has been in place," Mr O'Donnell said.

"The first cattle will move out of the system to slaughter within the next few weeks which enables us to have a full audit of the entire system."

Indonesia has a good understanding of SCA and has been working together with Australian industry to meet targets, but the system has struggled in some of the other regions that offer alternative markets for the heavier cattle.

"Egypt has two approved facilities and while Turkey has some facilities that meet SCA requirements there are many there that won't," Mr O'Donnell said.

"Saudi Arabia will also be tough to bring up to speed because they are heavily opposed to being dictated to by Australia and being told what they can and can't do with their own cattle."

Mr O'Donnell said that SCA has also met with enormous resistance in the Middle East.

"The Middle East has taken issue as they want a government-approved letter to outline these are the new requirements, but the Australian Government is unwilling to get involved in these government to government discussions," Mr O'Donnell said.

"Other regions, such as the Philippines, are struggling with the new burden of paper work that has come out of the traceability requirements which is a lot of extra work for no real price benefits to those regions."

Mr O'Donnell also said that animal welfare and public perception will remain major issues faced by the industry in the future but that the new SCA system will ensure the survival and profitability of the trade.

"Live export is critical to northern Australia and it is a very defendable trade," he said.

"The industry has been through the worst and can only get better and stronger through these new systems."

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READER COMMENTS

mike tancock
1/12/2011 9:00:43 AM, on Farm Weekly

So if the importers of Australian cattle refuse to abide the guidlines of the Supply Chain Assurance will they be denied the right of purchase? Industry bodies have ignored for decades the festering sore that is the Australian live export industry. Mr. O'Donnell you claim the game has been raised to a new level so will you request Four Corners to film a sequel? Animal transportation by sea has been happening for hundreds of years but the practice has had limited improvement compared to most other industries. Mortality rates are blithely accepted by all involved. Time to lift the game
lulu
1/12/2011 1:57:37 PM, on Farm Weekly

Defendable my arse!
Pauli T
2/12/2011 8:08:11 PM, on Farm Weekly

MLA MAKE BIG PROFITS. SO WHY THE BLOODY HELL DON"T THEY SPEND SOME OF IT ON ANIMAL WELFARE??? AFTER ALL IF IT WASN'T FOR THE ANIMALS, MLA WOULD'NT MAKE ANY $$. AND IT"S NOT JUST ANIMAL ACTIVISTS THAT WANT THIS CRUEL TRADE STOPPED, IT'S MOST OF AUSTRALIA. PROFITS NEED TO BE SPENT SETTING UP A CHILLED MEAT EXPORT SYSTEM, THIS IS WORKING IN PARTS OF THE MIDDLE EAST NOW THAT USED TO IMPORT LIVE ANIMALS. AUSTRALIA'S REPUTATION IS BEING RUINED BY THE CRUELTY INVOLVED IN LIVE EXPORT. IT'S TIME TO CHANGE THE WAY WE EXPORT MEAT. AUST TAX PAYERS WOULD RATHER SEE THEIR $ SPENT ON THIS TOO.
Nicky
3/12/2011 2:17:24 PM, on Farm Weekly

Any self-regulated SCA is completely worthless. The tags will be traced and nothing more. The Farmer report said bugger-all that is not on the MLA website and the Setate Review was the same. People, don't think anything had changed for the millions of sheep, cattle and goats. They will still suffer horror sea voyages up to 41 days to atrocious handling and slaughter practices. Tagging animals is simply worthless. NOTHING eill change for these animals while politicians continue to get sucked in by the few that make a 'killing' on the bakck of horrendous animal suffering.
Paul Wilson
5/12/2011 4:24:39 PM, on Farm Weekly

One thing I've been curious about... When a minority is shown doing the wrong thing, why is it that the majority must suffer. wasn't the footage on Four Corners of only a few abattoirs? yet how many are there in Indonesia?? If you see footage of a hobby farmer treating their cattle horrifically, do you automatically assume all other farmers treat their animals the same? or a dog owner that beats and starve his 'best friend', are all other dog owners the same?
Pauli T
7/12/2011 2:02:24 PM, on Farm Weekly

@ Paul... Not all farmers are cruel, we are not saying that, we are concerned about all forms of animal cruelty. The only way to export meat is boxed. We are not saying don't eat meat nor do we want to destroy good farmers. Good on them for going about their business in a humane manner... I think cruel farmers & cruel farming practices are making all farmers in general look bad. Farmers need to keep check on sadistic workers they employ, i have seen this for myself, some people should not be allowed to work with animals..If it wasn't for animals a lot of people would not have an income.

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You had better check your sources ATB!
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I came across this article on Arrabiddy Station. The brick homestead was built in august
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I couldn't think of anything more painful or fruitless than sitting on a board that does not