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.