Cat­tle ex­port plan con­cern

Countryman - - LIVESTOCK - Jenne Bram­mer

Tough new rec­om­men­da­tions pro­posed in the new Aus­tralian Stan­dards for the Ex­port of Live­stock could have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the north­ern cat­tle in­dus­try’s vi­a­bil­ity, while an­i­mal wel­fare ben­e­fits were ques­tion­able, the Kim­ber­ley Pil­bara Cat­tle­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion warns.

Draft op­tions for im­prov­ing the stan­dards were re­leased in Oc­to­ber. The cut-off date for stake­holder feed­back was last week.

KPCA said it sup­ported mea­sures di­rectly aimed at in­creas­ing trans­parency and build­ing pub­lic con­fi­dence in live ex­port, but added some rec­om­men­da­tions pre­sented sig­nif­i­cant risks of hurt­ing pro­duc­ers’ mar­gins.

KPCA chief ex­ec­u­tive Emma White said the mooted changes to ASEL could re­sult in overly pre­scrip­tive and in­flex­i­ble re­quire­ments, which were not sub­stan­ti­ated by an ev­i­dence­based ap­proach, nor mea­sured against ob­jec­tive cri­te­ria.

Chair­man David Stoate said the big­gest con­cerns were re­duced stock­ing den­si­ties (which could mean 14 per cent fewer cat­tle car­ried on short-haul voy­ages), and re­quire­ments for ex­pen­sive bed­ding on short-haul voy­ages.

He said the changes were not re­quired, given con­sis­tently low cat­tle mor­tal­ity rates of un­der 0.14 per cent for short-haul and long­haul voy­ages over the past eight years, ac­cord­ing to Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Re­sources fig­ures.

“Sim­i­larly, the rec­om­men­da­tions re­gard­ing bed­ding re­quire­ments have more of a feel-good el­e­ment to them to ap­pease mem­bers of the pub­lic,” Mr Stoate said.

“These rec­om­men­da­tions bear sig­nif­i­cant risks to the in­dus­try of re­duced mar­gins for pro­duc­ers for ques­tion­able an­i­mal wel­fare gains on a cost-ben­e­fit ba­sis.”

The re­port­ing date for the ASEL re­view was brought for­ward a year to the end of this year be­cause of the up­roar over vi­sion of a dis­as­trous sheep voy­age to the Mid­dle East.

Ms White said the trade-off in bring­ing the re­view for­ward was an in­abil­ity to take a more innovative and en­abling, risk-based ap­proach in­formed by ob­jec­tive and sci­en­tific ev­i­dence.

“Un­less more time is taken to re­visit and re­view draft rec­om­men­da­tions, there could be a num­ber of un­in­tended con­se­quences, with sig­nif­i­cant flow-through im­pli­ca­tions to the fu­ture vi­a­bil­ity of pro­duc­ers and re­lated busi­nesses,” she said.

Aus­tralia ex­ports more than one mil­lion cat­tle to more than 20 coun­tries around the world each year, with a value of $1.2 bil­lion.

Re­search com­mis­sioned by LiveCorp and Meat & Live­stock Aus­tralia, and un­der­taken by Me­cardo, found about half of all Aus­tralian live cat­tle ex­port rev­enue — about $620 mil­lion a year — was re­tained by the pro­ducer.

Cat­tle Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Margo An­drae said the trade pro­vided jobs for 10,000, in­clud­ing more than 2000 on-farm jobs.

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