Sheep exports at risk as numbers dwindle

30 Jul, 2009 02:00 AM
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Less sheep in WA paddocks is causing concern for live exporters.
Less sheep in WA paddocks is causing concern for live exporters.

THERE are concerns that Australia's decreasing sheep flock may cause irreparable damage to live export markets.

Exporters are already feeling the effects of the dwindling sheep flock and are struggling to fill vessels.

According to Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), Australia's sheep flock, the majority of which is made up by Merinos, is now 72 million head which is the lowest it has been since the turn of the 19th century.

MLA lamb and sheepmeat research and development manager Alex Ball said it was a priority for MLA to look at the stability of the Australian sheep flock and how to get more Merino ewes into the system to build long term recovery of the lamb and sheep meat industry.

Mr Ball said the biggest change in numbers had been a reduction in the number of Merino ewes and wethers.

WA Livestock Exporters Association chairman John Edwards said with high sheep prices and a lack of supply, the current situation in WA was simply not sustainable.

He said the national flock had eroded to a point where the biggest numbers were now coming from last year's lambs, which came with low live weights and high prices and made it difficult for exporters to compete with other countries.

Mr Edwards said the fact that exporters Australia-wide were struggling to fill vessels was a clear signal of where the sheep numbers had got to.

He said there were costs associated with short loading vessels, but more damaging could be the impact supply shortages could have on WA's valued Middle East markets.

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READER COMMENTS

kimikumba
30/07/2009 8:50:54 AM, on Farm Weekly

Good! I would like to see an end of live exports anyway! The price of lamb in Australia has never been higher for our consumers because of it.
Katarina
30/07/2009 6:58:41 PM, on Farm Weekly

Good news! Australia's live exports are one of the worst forms of animal cruelty in the world.
Jacob
30/07/2009 10:43:18 PM, on Farm Weekly

As a producer it is very difficult for me to have any empathy with the live exporters at the moment. When I needed a fair price for my lambs from them, they were happy to pay me $12.00 a head and justified it by calling it the influence of market forces. I had no choice but to sell it to them because there was nowhere else for the lambs to go. They thought they were so untouchable and so in command because they believed the situation would never change. What I say to them now is what my they said to me then: Handle it. There is a solution to this problem of course. One that will only take eight months to fix. Pay us a fair price all the time and we will keep on producing the world's best lamb and mutton all the time.
Judy
3/08/2009 2:59:19 PM, on Farm Weekly

Live exporters have recently been quoted in the media saying that paying anything over $100 per head for sheep in Australia is unsustainable. Does that mean they could afford to pay, say $90 per head and still make money? One only wonders what kind of profits they are making off people like Jacob, who, let's face it, put in all the hard work and take on a lot of risk with it. Also, live exports is basically responsible, according to the Aust Meat Workers union, for the systematic loss of around 20,000 meat worker jobs in Australia (because abattoirs directly compete with live exporters for stock and can't get the throughput to maintain jobs). What happens when the Middle Easterners don't renew contracts, and there are no abattoirs to process the animals? Will Australians be buying their meat from overseas? End this live export farce, keep jobs in Australia.
Mark
3/08/2009 3:32:32 PM, on Farm Weekly

Animal farmers be ware. When domestic slaughter is relegated to history because live export has sucked the nation dry of animals where will you animal farmers be then? You will be forced to take what payment you are offered because live exporters control the market. There is nothing good to say about live export - it rips off farmers, rips off the nation - 40,000+ Aust jobs lost to it, delivers less revenue than animals slaughtered in Aust and finally gives Aust a reputation as being one hell of a CRUEL nation. And deservedly so. Time is now to rid Australia of this pest of a trade. Disgusting vile live export.
Roy
3/08/2009 3:55:36 PM, on Farm Weekly

Excellent. All decent Australians are waiting for the day when the horrific shame of Live Export is lifted from Australia. This trade in cruelty cannot end too soon. Roy
amyc
3/08/2009 4:11:48 PM, on Farm Weekly

Great news, live exports are unthinkably cruel and there is no justification for it apart from making people's pockets fatter. If they had to go through what the sheep did would they feel the same?
dingo
3/08/2009 5:12:42 PM, on Farm Weekly

Good news. Let us stop the live export of sheep. And use the lambs and sheep for the local market and export, whatever is left, in frozen form.
Barbara
4/08/2009 2:12:11 PM, on Farm Weekly

Best news I've heard in ages. Australia's live export trade is a cruel and ugly industry that gives our country the reputation of supporting animal cruelty. The sooner this barbaric treatment of livestock is banned, the better.
Justice will be done
4/08/2009 6:04:23 PM, on Farm Weekly

That's great news. Rejoice Australia "fair!" The sadists and the predatory greed merchants in the live export trade have never flinched from an opportunity to scheme and plot no matter how sordid - forfeiting their humanity for a quick buck! What goes round comes round. Hallelujah - God is great!

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