Live cattle ships close to sailing

REBECCA TURNERCountryman

WA-based exporter International Livestock Exports (ILE) is confident it will recommence cattle shipments to Indonesia next week.

The first shipment of WA cattle to Indonesia is scheduled to leave Broome between August 14 and 20.

ILE director Mike Stanton said they were waiting on final approval of their Notice of Intention to Export which was expected to be granted this week.

Mr Stanton said ILE had been working closely with the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) to meet new export requirements and did not foresee any difficulty with an approval being granted.

While an approval would be necessary before any ship began loading, ILE intended to send a live export vessel from Fremantle to Broome this week in anticipation of it being loaded with cattle destined for Indonesia.

On Tuesday, Wellard Rural Exports lodged an application with DAFF to export cattle to Indonesia.

The application is to export 7000 cattle from Wyndham port to two clients based in Indonesia.

The animal welfare and livestock traceability systems at both clients’ feedlots and abattoirs have been independently audited and verified.

The results of the audit were submitted to the Department of Agriculture and Food as part of Wellard’s export application.

Depending on the timing of government approval, Wellard hopes to resume shipping to Indonesia by mid to late August.

Wellard Rural Exports managing director Steve Meerwald said he was confident the export application met the Federal Government’s new traceability and welfare requirements.

“Wellard wants to get cattle across northern Australian moving as soon as possible and the Federal Department of Agriculture has indicated it will treat this application with appropriate urgency while maintaining the integrity of the application process, ” Mr Meerwald said.

Elders’ first shipment to Indonesia was due to be loaded yesterday. It will be the first consignment of cattle to reach Indonesia since the trade was banned more than two months ago.

While shipments are now resuming under new export criteria, the volume of cattle leaving Australia for Indonesia is expected to be limited in 2011.

In response, the Northern Territory Government has waived pastoral rents for its producers in recognition of the financial pain being experienced by many as a direct result of the Federal Government live export ban.

In announcing the freeze on pastoral rent payments for this financial year, NT Chief Minister Paul Henderson and Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association executive director Luke Bowen called on the Federal Government to extend assistance being offered to the industry.

Mr Henderson wrote to Prime Minister Julia Gillard last week demanding she provide the same financial aid to cattle producers affected by the Indonesian live export trade debacle as that given to banana farmers after Cyclone Yasi.

During last week’s Senate hearing in Darwin into the live export trade, Mr Henderson also called on his Federal Labor counterparts to help desperate farmers, saying they should be entitled to the $200,000 in cash grants and low-interest loans given to farmers affected by Cyclone Yasi.

Lands Minister Brendon Grylls said WA’s pastoral rents were subject to a tiered increase process, but any increases would be deferred until the end of the year as a result of the pressure the Federal Government’s ban on live exports to Indonesia had caused WA pastoralists.

“We have sent a letter out to all pastoralists asking them to tell us how the ban on live exports to Indonesia has affected them, ” Mr Grylls said.

“While this is not going as far as the NT we believe this will easily show us who has had their entire income impacted and therefore will be exempt from paying pastoral rent.”

Mr Grylls said some pastoralists in the Pilbara and southern rangelands had other options for selling their cattle, but it was clear Kimberley pastoralists had been impacted heavily.

He said once the full impact was understood he would send a bill to the Federal Government for the pain it had caused this major WA industry.

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