Author Topic: ''The industry is buggered..." says livestock agent. 5.10.2012  (Read 1084 times)

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''The industry is buggered..." says livestock agent. 5.10.2012
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2012, 12:51:06 AM »
Turmoil all round brings a drop in live sheep exports. 

LIVE sheep exports from Victoria have dried up this year under the weight of new animal welfare export controls, the high Australian dollar and political turmoil in the Middle East.

Australia exports millions of sheep every year, most destined for the Middle East. But this year exports are down with one factor being the slow adoption of new rules.     

The rules, established after revelations of cruelty to Australian cattle in Indonesian abattoirs, require exporters to guarantee animal welfare from farm to slaughter. All facilities must be approved and meet high welfare standards.

Western Australia accounts for the majority of live sheep exports, but Victoria provides 20 per cent.

Last year, nearly 2.5 million sheep valued at $328 million were sent overseas.

Of those, 481,000, valued at $68 million, left from Victoria.

The latest available figures from LiveCorp show that until August, only 67,000 sheep were exported  from Victoria. Over the same period WA exported  1.1 million out of a total of   1.4 million.

The drop in exports has had a negative impact on domestic prices. Kate Joseph, a farmer at Tyrendarra and a former president of the Sheepmeat Council, said live exports were a crucial trade.

''It is a good important market because it keeps the value of sheep up, otherwise the market is flooded and the price comes back,'' Ms Joseph said.

She said the Arab Spring was also making trade difficult.

Livestock agent Warren Clark, in Hamilton, said combined factors were putting the trade to the brink, including new export rules, the global financial climate and animal activists.

''The industry is buggered, I'd say that the longevity of the boat trade is on very shaky ground. What has happened in the last month, hasn't quite put the nail in the coffin but it hasn't been far off,'' Mr Clark said.

In September, Bahrain rejected more than 20,000 Australian sheep, with the exporter, Wellard, eventually selling the animals to Pakistan. In Karachi local authorities alleged the animals were sick and ordered a cull, which was brutally carried out before a court halted the killing.

Twelve months ago mutton was fetching $4 a kilogram, now it was under a dollar, he said. ''Boat sheep'' then were fetching $125 but now they were struggling to reach $40.

''The trouble is we are dealing with people who have been doing this for centuries. It is their culture, and regardless of what we say they are not going to change,'' Mr Clark said.

Dunkeld farmer Craig Oliver said his gross income had dropped 20 per cent last year, with a further 20 per cent drop predicted this year, which was because of a drop in mutton and lamb prices.

''The live export trade is really critical to underpinning sheep and mutton prices. We have got an increasingly limited number of processors in the country competing on livestock. When the live export trade is functioning well you see a lot of competition in the market and prices improve,'' Mr Oliver said.

He said falling prices naturally hurt rural communities, with tradesmen, contractors, suppliers and workers all taking a hit.

October 6, 2012
  Richard Willingham

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« Last Edit: October 06, 2012, 12:53:05 AM by WA Export News »