Redman welcomes export trade recommendations

29 Oct, 2011 02:00 AM
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State Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman in Indonesia earlier this year.
State Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman in Indonesia earlier this year.

AFTER 145 days since the live cattle export ban was put in place, the Bill Farmer Review has been released.

The highly anticipated review, conducted by former Australian ambassador to Indonesia Bill Farmer, gave 14 recommend-ations for industry and Federal Government to follow.

It looked at animal welfare issues and standards in all of Australia's live export markets, not just Indonesia.

The report was handed to Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig on August 31 who has since been consulting with industry on the recommendations.

WA Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman welcomed the report into live exports and said it was good to see the Federal Government take on a more consultative approach.

Tensions were high between Mr Redman and Mr Ludwig during the live cattle export ban to Indonesia with Mr Redman expressing his disappointment at not being consulted before such a major decision on the industry was made.

WA accounts for about 75 per cent of sheep exports from Australia and nearly half the live cattle exports.

Mr Redman said his relationship with Mr Ludwig was improving.

"One thing that is really important is that the Federal Government wants to work closely with the States and it wants to work closely with industry to achieve an outcome that minimises the risk of an impact on the trade itself," Mr Redman said.

"Two things stood out to me (in the Farmer review) and one is the individual identification of sheep and goats.

"The Federal Government response is it is not mandating anything at this point in time.

"It is open up to discussion and I think that is good."

Mr Redman said it was important not to underestimate the challenges involved in individual identification, especially for the sheep market.

"The second part is that there is recognition from the Federal Government of a time frame for the industry to adjust," he said.

"It is an important point and that is in stark contrast to what happened in the Indonesian market earlier this year."

There are three stages for the implementation dates for a 'quality assured supply chain,' with Indonesia and Egypt already in place, and with Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Turkey to be included by February 29, 2012. This would account for 75 per cent of destination markets.

Israel, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Oman, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates are then due to be up to standard by August 31, 2012, which makes up 99pc of Australia's live exports.

The rest of Australia's live export destinations, Brunei, Mauritius, Russia, Vietnam and other markets are all to be up to standard by December 31, 2012.

At the time of speaking to Farm Weekly, Mr Redman was yet to speak to industry but believed the timeframe to implement the changes was achievable.

He said he had spoken to Mr Ludwig about the report and cleared a couple of points.

"The language used in the review wasn't clear from my point of view about individual identification," he said.

Mr Redman admitted there would be a cost involved in implementing the proposed changes and Government was in the process of working out who would wear that cost.

"The costs will be something that is worked through and presently industry, like Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), invests in those overseas destination markets so clearly there will be some discussion around its ability to support funding the traceability requirements," he said.

Mr Redman said he couldn't rule out costs being passed onto producers but it would be up for discussion.

"At the end of the day somebody has to pay and at the moment producers pay levies and they will probably argue that their MLA levy is their contribution (to animal welfare)," he said.

"There is discussion around whether in fact we should be heading down individual identification at a domestic level anyway and there are certainly some biosecurity benefits but there is also a cost attached to that.

"I think one of the discussions I will be having with industry is about the individual indent faction and what the benefits are on that and to find out more."

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