Buf­falo in­dus­try’s woes

Ex­porters threaten to pull out of South East Asia trade


ONE of the Ter­ri­tory’s ma­jor meat ex­porters will stop ship­ping buf­falo to South East Asia if the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment pushes ahead with its in­de­pen­dent ob­server pol­icy.

South East Asian Live­stock Ser­vices, or SEALS, said the mar­gin on ex­port­ing the an­i­mals was al­ready very small and there were a num­ber of costs associated with ex­port­ing buf­falo unique from cat­tle – such as longer so­cial­i­sa­tion pe­ri­ods in yards which in­creased costs.

The in­de­pen­dent ob­server pol­icy is be­ing in­tro­duced as a way of pro­vid­ing feed­back about voy­ages, fol­low­ing leaked footage of sheep ex­por­ta­tion on the Awassi Ex­press.

NT Live­stock Ex­porters As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Will Evans said, in the­ory, it sup­ported im­prove­ments to trans­parency in the trade and the in­ten­tion be­hind the in­de­pen­dent ob­server pol­icy.

“How­ever, in im­ple­ment­ing such a pol­icy it is im­por­tant that a num­ber of stake­hold­ers are en­gaged with in or­der to en­sure that any un­in­tended con­se­quences of the pol­icy do not dis­pro­por­tion­ately im­pact the com­mu­ni­ties and busi­nesses of the NT,” he said. The NT Gov­ern­ment es­ti­mates the cost to em­ploy an in­de­pen­dent ob­server is about $1300 per day, plus a busi­ness class flight for them to re­turn to Aus­tralia.

In Au­gust, NT Pri­mary In­dus­try and Re­sources Min­is­ter Ken Vowles called on the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to abol­ish its plan to in­tro­duce in­de­pen­dent ob­servers on short-haul live ex­port voy­ages. Mr Vowles said the move would crip­ple the NT’s live ex­port in­dus­try, kill its grow­ing buf­falo trade and de­stroy Ter­ri­tory jobs.

“The death of 2400 Aus­tralian sheep from over­crowd­ing on a live ex­port ship was ap­palling,” he said.

“But the live ex­port of cat­tle and buf­falo is very dif­fer­ent to the live ex­port of sheep. I sup­port im­prove­ments to an­i­mal wel­fare in the live ex­port in­dus­try, but the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment should not make a knee-jerk re­ac­tion that af­fects parts of the in­dus­try al­ready op­er­at­ing to a high stan­dard.”

Ac­cord­ing to fed­eral fig­ures, be­tween June and De­cem­ber last year, 369,114 cat­tle were shipped from North Aus­tralia – with a mor­tal­ity rate of 40.

SEALS has been con­tacted for fur­ther com­ment.

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