Who are the rogue live sheep export operators?

Who are the rogue live sheep export operators?

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Last week WA Liberal Party leader Liza Harvey said "rogue operators" needed to be cleaned out of the live export industry.

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LAST week WA Liberal Party leader Liza Harvey said "rogue operators" needed to be cleaned out of the live export industry.

The comment made me laugh.

Does she even know who these so called "rogue operators" are?

She didn't name anyone.

Does she even know what companies are still operating within the live export industry?

Or even how many and who they are operated by?

Her comments were similar to State Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan's, who named those involved in unfortunate incidents with livestock deaths while on voyages from Australia "cowboys" in the industry.

So who are these rogue cowboys?

There are 32 licensed live sheep exporters by sea in Australia, with two companies making up 50 per cent of exports.

We recently heard that Harmony Agriculture and Food, a Perth-based Chinese backed company went into liquidation and will no longer be operating.

Its subsidiary company Phoenix Exports had at least two voyages in its short time on the scene where it had exceeded the acceptable mortality rate for cattle - while investigations are ongoing the interim findings suggest a combination of bovine respiratory disease and heat stress were the main causes of mortalities on the voyages to China.

I'm sure they couldn't be described as rogue.

Livestock Shipping Services (LSS) was established in Perth in 1998 and has established markets around the world.

LSS said recently that it was concerned that the trade was becoming unviable to operate in Australia and during the three-month moratorium put in place by the industry and regulated by DAWR, has been busy offshore taking sheep and cattle from South America to its markets with no Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System requirements or restrictions.

It's vessel the Bader III will not return to WA due to new standards for ships being introduced in January 2020.

LSS has invested heavily in WA with a buyout of Wellard's Beaufort River Meats and Wongan Hills feed mill - to boost its own Hillside Meats processing abattoir.

Emanuel Exports (EE) has had its license cancelled, due to allegations of breaches to the regulations, and is still waiting for its day in court with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR).

The State government has also taken legal action against the company for what it believes are breaches of the State Animal Welfare Act.

Emanuel's began exporting in 1960 and has been one of the most influential companies within the industry since then.

As the largest exporter of live sheep in Australia surely it couldn't be considered rogue - especially with the "cash for cruelty" allegations made about footage obtained on the Awassi Express in 2017.

Rural Export and Trading WA (RETWA) is the only other major player in the market from WA trading in sheep and is connected to Emanuel's through its relationship with Kuwait Livestock Trading and Transport - the world's largest sheep importer.

RETWA obtained its export license last year, after a number of years without one, to take up the slack while Emanuel's has been unable to operate fully.

Since May 2018 exporters have clocked up some of the best export results ever seen in the industry - with a success rate averaging 99.7 per cent or higher.

So who are the cowboys - the rogue operators?

Australian exporters adhere to the strictest animal welfare standards for their industry in the world - which makes them in some cases uncompetitive.

What does the industry have to do to prove that it is a viable and sustainable and acceptable trade?

Maybe politicians should learn more about it before they seek to label companies who experience a tragic incident on the water, which no one wants to see or have happen.

At the end of the day it is all about providing a market with the best quality product one can supply, just like any other export industry.

Former Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce was right when he said that the livelihood of thousands of Australian farmers and their regional communities rely on the trade continuing for all to prosper.

Of the two million head that were exported in 2017-2018, WA made up 85pc of exports, which equalled 30pc of WA's sheep turn off in that year and equalled $239 million.

Australian exporters are far from rogue operators.

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