Supply chains a priority

Rebecca TurnerCountryman

Secure supply chains for Australian sheep in the Middle East are under development, with the implementation of new Federal Government export requirements only months away.

With 2.4 million sheep exported from WA last year, WA Agriculture Minister Terry Redman is keen to ensure the right policies are in place.

He said the sheep industry would go a long way to ensure producers did not suffer the same fate of the northern cattle industry after the ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia.

“About 75 per cent of the live sheep trade out of Australia comes from WA. It’s important for the whole industry not just the live trade, ” Mr Redman said.

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While the Bill Farmer independent review report is not due until the end of August, Mr Redman said the sheep industry was putting mechanisms in place to ensure the future of the live sheep trade.

He said a industry-government working group aimed to ensure future regulatory challenges were met.

“We carry a significant proportion of live cattle exports; we carry the lion’s share of the live sheep trade. The message from last week’s meetings has shown there is support from all ministers for the live trade, ” he said.

The Sheepmeat Council of Australia (SCA), which is part of the working group, believes the guidelines developed for Indonesian cattle may be used as a basis for all livestock export markets.

SCA president Kate Joseph stressed the industry’s work in several markets importing live sheep had existed for a number of years, with real impact on animal welfare being made.

“I have travelled to the Middle East several times and have seen the substantial changes that have occurred, especially in the last few years as our training and infrastructure improvements have come on line, ” she said.

“Those now advocating a close to the trade have no interest in animal welfare in our markets.

“Taking Australian livestock out of this trade will inevitably result in animal standards going backwards.”

Ms Joseph said through the industry working group, SCA had been involved in developing a broad regulatory framework to manage livestock exports.

She said developing a course of action for managing Australia’s relationship with international markets was also part of this process.

Ms Joseph said the livestock export trade was crucial to the sustainability of Australia’s sheep producers; however, Australia’s livestock export industry would not tolerate mistreatment of animals.

“We need to ensure that international standards are being met in all our markets, ” she said.

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