Fears for live export’s future after DAWR meetings
The State’s agricultural lobby groups have emerged from meetings with the Federal animal welfare regulator with renewed fears the live sheep export trade could be dead in the water.
Three Department of Agriculture and Water Resources staff were in Perth today for a series of discussions with industry representatives, including WAFarmers and Pastoralists and Graziers Association members.
Meetings focused on DAWR’s controversial heat-stress risk assessment draft report, released on December 13, and the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock review.
The proposed heat-stress standards for Middle East-destined live sheep voyages include a 28C wet bulb temperature limit and extending the northern hemisphere summer trading halt from May to October, instead of June to August.
After today’s meeting with the DAWR officials, a stern PGA president Tony Seabrook warned WA sheep producers were facing an “economic tsunami” if the proposed sheep heat-stress shipping standards were enforced.
Mr Seabrook said the Morrison Government were rushing the HSRA’s implementation — which DAWR intend to enforce this year — without sufficient industry consultation, with a feedback period to close on January 31.
“The industry can survive a three-month shutdown, but six months would be the end of it,” he said.
“We made it clear that if DAWR think what they’re proposing will save the trade, they’re wrong, they will kill it.”
DAWR’s array of meetings included a sit-down with WAFarmers president Tony York and policy executive officer Kim Haywood.
Mr York exited the meeting with a more positive outlook than his PGA counterpart, but said the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the live sheep sector’s long-term viability hindered sheep producers.
“There has been a more than adequate adjustment to the trade with the three-month moratorium,” he said.
“The risk has been removed almost entirely with the changes made.
“We continue to stress that the industry has made significant responses in the last three months and have taken almost all of the heat-stress risk out of the trade.”
Australian Livestock Exporters Council announced on December 4 the industry would endorse a three-month moratorium on voyages to the Middle East during the northern hemisphere summer.
The decision, seen by industry as a proactive approach to restoring public confidence in live exports, was ultimately rendered redundant less than 10 days later when a heat-stress risk assessment draft report was released on December 13.
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