Live export trade halt sees angst for farmers

Zach RelphCountryman
York sheep and wheat farmer Peter Boyle is concerned about the halt in live exports.
Camera IconYork sheep and wheat farmer Peter Boyle is concerned about the halt in live exports. Credit: Zach Relph

Prominent sheep producer Peter Boyle says Animals Australia’s bid to end the nation’s live export trade is “industrial sabotage”, causing rippling uncertainty and angst across the sector.

The York farmer’s business has been financially strained during the live export debacle, with seven full-time jobs, employed indirectly through the farm, in limbo amid the continuing trade halt.

Mr Boyle, who has exported about 26,000 sheep annually almost exclusively with Emanuel Exports since 2005, said the export standstill was restricting the industry.

“I’ve missed out on two turnovers of sheep, about 10,000 sheep in total, during this period,” he said.

“It has had a huge effect on cashflow because we have 5000 sheep sitting there, so money isn’t coming into our business — it is certainly making things difficult.

“We didn’t know the ban would go for this long, we had faith it would have ended sooner.”

Last month, Animals Australia director Lyn White said the group’s legal team would decide on a case-by-case basis to challenge the approval of a live export shipment.

The comments came after Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud signed off on revised regulations, allowing court injunctions to stop a ship’s journey to be imposed before a vessel is loaded.

Mr Boyle said although allowing injunctions to be applied for sooner benefited exporters, Animal Australia’s campaign against the industry was hindering sheep farmers’ long-term planning.

“Animals Australia is a cloud hanging over us,” he said.

“For (Ms White) to say their lawyers are going to pick and choose who they are going to attack, it’s not only the exporters who are concerned but it’s every farmer.

“They don’t know what they are going to plan for and it is making farmers angry and upset.

“Talk about stress on sheep, it’s stress on farmers as well.”

In response to Mr Boyle, Animals Australia spokeswoman Lisa Chalk said the animal welfare group was not responsible for keeping a loaded vessel at port.

“Animals Australia has not stopped a single shipment,” she said.

“We have simply sought, as have farmers, for current laws to be upheld.”

The Boyles are enjoying a positive grain growing season across 5000ha of their property, with flourishing wheat, barley, canola and oat crops.

However, Mr Boyle said a lack of income caused by the live export halt had reduced opportunity to use fungicide and nutrient sprays to help the crops reach full potential.

He was hopeful trade would resume within two or three weeks and praised Livestock Shipping Services’ progress in securing about 20,000 wethers for export.

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