Live sheep exports banned during northern summer season
LIVESTOCK exporters have announced a self-imposed moratorium on live sheep exports to the Middle East during the next northern summer.
However it might be a case of too little too late for Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, who said “it would have been better if industry had shown leadership across a broad range of animal welfare matters some years ago”.
Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council announced the moratorium on Tuesday afternoon.
It would mean that from June 1, no shipments of Australian sheep will leave the country for the Middle East during what is recognised as the highest heat-stress risk period of the northern summer.
Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council’s Simon Crean said the moratorium would provide certainty to sheep producers who supplied the trade and was just one initiative among wider-ranging industry reforms.
Meanwhile, a number of bills have been introduced to Federal Parliament to completely ban live exports.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said it was important to respect Australia’s trading partners and “make sure we work through practical solutions to ensure their food security”.
“We await the science regarding the head-stress model, which we expect shortly.”
Mr Crean said the moratorium was intended to maintain and grow a “strong, viable nine-month-a-year live sheep trade” and secure “the future of Australia’s livestock export industry”.
He said that while more than three-quarters of Middle East sheep voyages in the past seven years had recorded mortalities of less than 1 per cent, the majority of the 20 voyages when mortalities exceeded 1.5 per cent occurred in the June to August northern summer period.
“The live sheep trade to the Middle East needs to be reset,” Mr Crean 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.”
The moratorium will be enforced via the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council’s newly established mandatory code of conduct.
CHANGES AFOOT: Livestock exporters have announced a self-imposed moratorium.