War should not affect trade

27 Jul, 2006 07:00 PM
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THE latest crisis in the Middle East will not affect Australia's live export trade, according to Landmark WA livestock manager Chris Medcalf.

With war raging throughout Lebanon and northern Israel, Mr Medcalf expects the live trade between the Middle East and Australia to continue.

Landmark, in conjunction with a live exporter, has shipped two boatloads of bull calves to the region in the past.

The last shipment contained 3000 bull calves.

Mr Medcalf said the market required 200-350kg liveweight bulls.

Even with the recent bombings the region still required and preferred live animals.

Wellard Rural Exports general manager Steve Meerwald said there had been no market access problems.

Mr Meerwald said a boat discharged from Jordan last week without incident.

Another market which the Australian live export industry hopes to be able to enter without incident is Egypt.

Earlier this year footage was released of Australian animals being treated outside industry guidelines in the region.

A memorandum of understanding is being drawn up between Australia and Egypt, with the hope of live exports continuing shortly after signing.

Mr Medcalf said once Egyptian trade re-opened there would be more competition in the market, which provided price benefits to the farmer.

He said Australia would be guaranteed to keep these markets open if quantity and quality were focused on.

"I think welfare concerns have been addressed and always will be addressed so the exporters are working very closely with the government agencies to make sure welfare issues are addressed at all times," Mr Medcalf said.

"If you don't deliver the two 'Qs' you are going to have a problem."

Mr Medcalf said it was important that Landmark focused on a commonsense approach in relation to animal welfare.

"We keep in touch with the government bodies and RSPCA and make sure that there have not been drastic changes to legislation or any other rules," he said.

Mr Medcalf said it was important to keep the live export industry going because in times like the present dry period, the industry kept the agricultural industry alive.

"In this situation that we are in at the moment - we won't call it a drought, we'll call it a dry - if we did not have live exports for markets WA producers would absolutely be buggered," he said.

"All the live exporters take a lighter animal than the processors do, so it is a huge market for us to sell a high-valued animal at low weights."

Mr Medcalf said this year it would be hard to increase the live export business due to the lack of food around.

During these times Landmark was keeping a close control on quality.

Mr Medcalf said all animals were losing weight on a daily basis and agents were trying to get grain out to their customers.

Landmark's live cattle exports are concentrated out of the Pilbara and Gascoyne areas, as well as Port Hedland and WA's northern ports.

Mr Medcalf said growers should contact their local Landmark representative to inquire about export options.

"Landmark deals with all live exporters to increase market penetration for our large customer base," he said.

Meanwhile, WA's reputation as a leader in the live export trade is growing, and along with it is interest from eastern states export companies.

Australian Rural Exports, affectionately known as Austrex, is increasing its focus on WA.

The company's general manager, Justin Slaughter, said with more competition in the WA live export industry, he expected to see an increase in cattle prices for producers.

"We already have seen some very good increases since we've been in the market," Mr Slaughter said.

He said the export company was heavily involved in the live bull trade and focused on countries such as Israel, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Australian Rural Exports had also sent dairy cattle to China and the Middle East.

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COMMENTS

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Australia's live animal trade is nothing but a blood stained industry that suits those who