Author Topic: Live sheep trade in limbo. 14.3.2012  (Read 895 times)

WA Export News

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Live sheep trade in limbo. 14.3.2012
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2012, 09:01:31 PM »
AUSTRALIA'S live export trade of sheep is on hold.

 Exporters must meet government-set quality assurance guidelines for key Middle East markets before the practice can resume.

Although the guidelines included in the Export Supply Chain Assurance System were announced in October, none of the exporters were able to meet the March 1 deadline.

And while the three major exporters - Wellard Rural Exports, SAMEX and EMS Rural Exports- are all confident of complying with the guidelines, none can say when.

None of them would comment on the progress with their ESCAS commitments.

Both Wellard and SAMEX have penciled in April shipments from Western Australia and Victoria respectively.

Victoria's last shipment of 50,000 Merino wethers and crossbred wether lambs bound for Turkey was sent just before the deadline.

Two shipments that left Western Australia and South Australia last month also beat the deadline.

Last year 480,000 sheep were exported in March and April.

Under ESCAS, each exporter is responsible for animal welfare from the local assembly feedlots to the point of slaughter.

That means that every feedlot, mode of transport and processing plant involved in the exporter's supply chain contract has to have an assurance of animal welfare standards, which are subject to a quarterly independent audit.

As part of a phase in of ESCAS, the Federal Government stipulated that Australia's four largest export markets - Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Turkey - had to comply from March 1.

Sheepmeat Council of Australia executive officer Ron Cullen said the assurance program involved meticulous inspections of facilities for such hazards as spikes and broken rails.

Mr Cullen said one of the benefits of the program would be an end to images of sheep being transported in car boots and of backyard slaughtering, which accounted for less than 1 per cent of the trade.

Despite the temporary halt in the live sheep export market, prices for would-be export Merino wethers are holding up in the domestic prime market.

Last week the National Livestock Reporting Service was quoting $104 to $120 at Hamilton for heavy Merino wethers with skin and wool values between $19 to $28.

Wellard's indicative quote in Western Australia for a 52kg-plus off-shears Merino wether was $115, but wethers left Portland in February at delivered rates of $100-$105.

Elders Casterton livestock manager Sim Flanders said one client sold Merino wethers with five months of wool at Hamilton last week for $120.

Brian Clancy |  March 14, 2012