Ques­tions soar on live ex­port

Countryman - - FRONT PAGE - Zach Relph

The fu­ture of Aus­tralia’s live sheep trade rests upon a draft re­port into heat-stress risk as­sess­ments for Mid­dle East­ern-bound live sheep voy­ages.

The De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Re­sources re­leased the in­de­pen­dent draft re­port last Thurs­day, send­ing a wave of angst through­out the in­dus­try, with sheep pro­duc­ers and ex­porters warn­ing its rec­om­men­da­tions could ren­der the trade un­vi­able.

It calls for a 28C wet bulb tem­per­a­ture limit and ex­tend­ing the def­i­ni­tion of the north­ern hemi­sphere sum­mer so it runs from May to Oc­to­ber.

The live sheep in­dus­try could die if a pro­posed heat-stress risk assess­ment for ship­ments en route to the Mid­dle East comes to fruition, key in­dus­try fig­ures have warned.

They say the trade would be ren­dered un­vi­able un­der rec­om­mended changes to ship­ping stan­dards made in a De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Re­sources draft re­port.

Re­leased last Thurs­day, the doc­u­ment called for the wet bulb tem­per­a­ture on live­stock car­ri­ers to the Mid­dle East to not ex­ceed 28C.

The in­de­pen­dent panel also pro­posed defin­ing the north­ern hemi­sphere sum­mer from May to Oc­to­ber, in­stead of June to Au­gust.

If im­ple­mented, it could make the live sheep ex­port in­dus­try’s self-im­posed three-month mora­to­rium from June 1 next year, an­nounced ear­lier this month, re­dun­dant.

The draft’s sug­ges­tions have been heav­ily crit­i­cised by live sheep rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the wake of its re­lease, with Pas­toral­ists and Gra­ziers As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Tony Seabrook among those to dis­pute the pro­posed wet bulb tem­per­a­ture.

The York-based farmer said the heat-risk stan­dard, along­side the ex­tended six-month north­ern sum­mer def­i­ni­tion, would kill WA’s live ex­port trade if im­posed by DAWR.

“If we end up with the six-month hia­tus, that’s the end of the trade,” he said.

“No one will be able to sus­tain the in­fra­struc­ture un­der that new pro­posed reg­u­la­tion.

“It is at a point where they won’t have to ban it, they will just reg­u­late it to a point that no one will be able to do it.”

Wet bulb tem­per­a­ture is de­fined as an en­vi­ron­men­tal mea­sure de­pen­dent on dry bulb tem­per­a­ture and hu­mid­ity.

It pro­vides a tem­per­a­ture mea­sure which is ad­justed for the cool­ing ef­fect of evap­o­ra­tion and air move­ment.

The Lib­eral mem­ber for O’Con­nor, Rick Wil­son, a Katan­ning sheep pro­ducer, said the mooted heat-risk stan­dards would be tough for ex­porters to ad­here to.

“It cre­ates se­ri­ous is­sues, be­cause at any time of the year when cross­ing the equa­tor, the 28C re­quire­ment will be dif­fi­cult to meet,” he said.

“I urge sheep pro­duc­ers from WA to con­trib­ute to the pub­lic com­ment pe­riod and have their say.”

Ko­jonup farmer Neal O’Hal­lo­ran said the swirling po­lit­i­cal de­bate in the fall­out since the Awassi Ex­press footage emerged had ham­pered sheep pro­duc­ers.

The sheep and grain grower said politi­cians needed to help the in­dus­try pro­vide cer­tainty on the trade’s fu­ture to pro­mote longterm de­ci­sion-mak­ing among farm­ers.

“The po­lit­i­cal fac­tor will be the death of the live sheep in­dus­try,” Mr O’Hal­lo­ran said.

“I don’t have any con­fi­dence in the trade hold­ing on . . . but I’d like to see com­mon sense pre­vail.

“We need to be given the cer­tainty to ad­just out busi­ness ac­cord­ingly and plan for the fu­ture.”

Sheep Pro­duc­ers Aus­tralia was one of the few in­dus­try groups to wel­come the heat-stress risk assess­ment draft.

SPA chair­man Chris Mi­rams said the in­dus­try must com­mit to sci­ence-based an­i­mal wel­fare reg­u­la­tion to un­der­pin the trade’s longevity.

“Chang­ing the way our in­dus­try op­er­ates, from mea­sur­ing mor­tal­ity rates to mea­sur­ing an­i­mal wel­fare, re­quires a great depth of sci­ence and un­der­stand­ing,” he said.

“This is an im­por­tant first step in start­ing to build this un­der­stand­ing.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.