To Russia with love

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

Embattled livestock exporter Livestock Shipping Services has announced its largest ever shipment of cattle, with 32,000 Angus steers bound for Russia.

Perth-based LSS has been at the centre of animal cruelty investigations since images of cruelty emerged of livestock sent to Gaza.

LSS general manager Garry Robinson is also facing a criminal investigation into allegations he forged documents while working for rival exporter Wellard.

LSS export manager Paul Keenan said the cattle would be delivered to a purpose-built feedlot and abattoir approved by the Australian Government under the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System.

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Mr Keenan said the initial shipment of cattle to Russia was worth an estimated $40 million, with the potential for it to become Australia's second largest market in the future.

"The contracted consignment of 32,000 Angus feeder steers have been sourced from New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia," he said.

"The opening of the market will provide significant opportunities for Australian producers, with the potential to export up to 100,000 head of cattle per annum."

A spokesman for LSS who has been organising the shipment said the consignment had been loaded in SA and Fremantle and should leave in the next few days.

The LSS spokesman said the shipment was the result of six months of negotiations with Miratorg Agribusiness Holding, one of the largest meat producers and suppliers in the Russian market.

"It's been a sensitive time over there politically, but we've managed to work through the political obstacles by working closely with the Department of Agriculture," he said.

The spokesman said Russia presented a huge opportunity for producers.

"The Russians are keen to supplement their stocks and have found Australian cattle to be healthy and productive livestock," he said.

"This extra market has plenty of room for additional growth and additional markets and Miratong have taken more than 50,000 heifers over the last couple of years already."

The spokesman said Miratong developed a state-of-the-art high-tech abattoir facility in Russia.

"With this new facility they are geared-up to take fattening cattle from Australia to supplement their own domestic production to service their own process and marketing business," he said.

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