Industry fears export backlash
Pilbara cattlemen are waiting to see whether the live cattle export trade will be adversely affected after shocking footage was released earlier this month of sheep treated inhumanely on a live export ship to the Middle East.
The video, filmed by a navigation officer, showed dozens of distressed sheep struggling to breathe while dead animals were thrown over the side of a boat operated by Perth exporter Emanuel.
Since the footage aired, pastoralists have been on edge, waiting to see whether the events will affect the live cattle export industry.
Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association chairman David Stoate said despite the footage showing a shipment of live sheep, it put extra scrutiny on all livestock exports, including cattle. “Footage like that is never a great time for the whole livestock industry,” he said.
“(If it led to a closure of all live animal exports) it would make most pastoral properties in the north unviable.
The abattoir (at Kimberley’s Yeeda Station) is processing cattle that doesn’t meet the specifications for live export.
“Most of our cattle goes to Indonesia and most of them are fed in feedlots there — we’re good at breeding cattle and they can finish them off to slaughter weight.”
Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said despite the focus being on sheep, all members of the industry needed to band together to keep the industry alive. “We have been asking the industry for a very long time to fix up these trouble spots,” she said. She noted cattle on the voyage in question were not adversely affected during the trip, unlike the sheep in the footage.
Live export cattle at Port Hedland port in 2017.