Ex­porters agree to three-month ban

Countryman - - FRONT PAGE - Zach Relph

Aus­tralia’s live sheep ex­ports to the Mid­dle East will be placed on ice dur­ing north­ern sum­mers in an at­tempt to reignite the trade, with ex­porters opt­ing for a three-month mora­to­rium on voy­ages.

Live­stock ex­porters in­formed WA sheep pro­duc­ers on Tues­day of the new three-month mora­to­rium for live sheep ship­ments to the Mid­dle East dur­ing the peak heat stress-risk pe­riod.

The halt will be im­posed from June 1, 2019, and en­forced through Aus­tralian Live­stock Ex­porters Coun­cil’s re­cently-es­tab­lished manda­tory code of con­duct.

York sheep pro­ducer Peter Boyle, whose busi­ness has been fi­nan­cially bur­dened amid the live ex­port drama, cau­tiously wel­comed the an­nounce­ment.

“We will be able to man­age it,” he said.

“If this is what it takes to get the trade go­ing, then it is OK.

“It is im­por­tant to give us se­cu­rity and also show that we are pre­pared to make con­ces­sions to demon­strate that the in­dus­try can be vi­able.”

How­ever, Mr Boyle raised con Au­gust cerns the mora­to­rium would re­strict Aus­tralia sheep pro­duc­ers from cap­i­tal­is­ing on the Mid­dle East’s high live sheep de­mand pe­ri­ods dur­ing two Is­lamic hol­i­days — Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

Eid al-Fitr, sig­ni­fy­ing the end of Ra­madan, will be held from June 4 to June 5 next year and Eid al-Adha will take place from Au­gust 11 to 15. ALEC in­de­pen­dent chair­man Si­mon Crean said the mora­to­rium gave sheep pro­duc­ers con­fi­dence the trade would op­er­ate for nine months a year.

“The live sheep trade to the Mid­dle East needs to be re­set,” he said.

“June to Au­gust sheep ex­ports to the Mid­dle East are worth $55 mil­lion per an­num, so the mora­to­rium will, with­out any doubt, im­pact farm gate re­turns.

“But this de­ci­sion shows the gen­uine care ex­porters have for live­stock — val­ues we share with pro­duc­ers — and our com­mit­ment to the in­dus­try’s fu­ture.”

Ex­port re­search and devel­op­ment cor­po­ra­tion, Live Corp, is work­ing to de­velop new tech­nol­ogy which could, po­ten­tially, ad­dress heat risk chal­lenges en­dured on ship­ments in June, July and Au­gust, ac­cord­ing to Mr Crean.

WA Farm­ers live­stock pres­i­dent David Slade said the the three-month mora­to­rium for the north­ern sum­mer was a sen­si­ble de­ci­sion in a pe­riod when an­i­mal wel­fare was not guar­an­teed.

“This de­ci­sion by ex­porters per­mits the in­dus­try to plan ahead and realign their pro­duc­tion and sell­ing op­tions,” he said.

“Ship­ping over a des­ig­nated ninemonth pe­riod will al­low the in­dus­try to meet con­tract ar­range­ments.

“With­out con­fi­dence that the trade will con­tinue, re­gional com­mu­ni­ties will suf­fer as jobs dis­ap­pear.

“The de­ci­sion al­lows the in­dus­try time to test new wel­fare stan­dards to fur­ther im­prove the stan­dards re­cently adopted.”

Aus­tralia’s live sheep in­dus­try has re­mained in limbo since April when footage was broad­cast of sheep dead, dy­ing and suf­fer­ing in swel­ter­ing con­di­tions on Emanuel Ex­ports’ Awassi Ex­press ves­sel trav­el­ling to the Mid­dle East.

In June, the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Re­sources can­celled Emanuel’s ex­port li­cence.

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