Beef 2015 Report

Beef 2015: Livex driving global welfare changes, forum told

James Nason, 08/05/2015
A new generation Vroon live export vessel.

A new generation Vroon live export vessel.

The Australian live export industry has brought about the single most significant impact on global animal welfare improvements ever seen, the chair of LiveCorp David Galvin told a forum at Beef 2015 yesterday.

“You might think I am saying that at the business bar at 8pm with a few beers,” he said.

“But I’m not, this is true.

“The Director General of the World Organisation for Animal Health stated a little over a year ago that the Australian live export industry is driving the biggest change in improvement in animal health throughout the world.

“That is not me saying that, this is the DG of an organisation that is made up of 177 member countries.

“So despite what you might hear from animal activists, the RSPCA etc, here is the foremost body in the world saying this industry is driving animal health across the world.”

Mr Galvin said 38 live export businesses were active in 2014, with just 12 handling 85pc of all exports that left Australia in the same year.

On any one day there were an average of nine vessels on the water carrying Australian livestock to destinations around the world.

In additional approximately four airfreight consignments departed Australia on a weekly basis.

“As you can see this requires careful planning throughout the entire supply chain and holds great significance for many people and regions across Australia employing over 13,000 throughout industry.

He said the livestock export industry contributed $1.5 billion to the Australian economy in 2014.

Australian Farm Institute director Mick Keogh told the same forum that live exports brought a number of benefits to the broader Australian cattle industry that were perhaps not as widely recognised as they should be.

For example the amount of competition the live export sector brought to the processing beef sector was an important factor affecting pricing for the entire Australian cattle industry, even in Southern Australia.

The live export market opened access for the Australian beef industry to new markets, particularly in countries that lacked cold chain facilities.

The trade also offered a key risk management role for northern producers in particular.

Look no further than the last couple of years in Queensland and the drought situation there,” Mr Keogh said.

“The opportunity that is available for producers now to offload stock through the live export chain – if you go back to the terrible years of ‘77 and ‘78 when slaughter numbers were as high as they are today or higher, that avenue wasn’t as readily available and there was a lot more pain and a lot slower recovery in the industry because that risk management option wasn’t there.

“So in terms of drought and risk management the live export industry is playing an increasingly important role that is probably not as recognised as it should be.”

Federal agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce told the forum that growth in the live cattle industry would not cause the demise of the processing sector.

“The processing sector is great and vitally important to our nation but it’s always great to know that there is another person at the rail.

“We need real competition in the marketplace for us to get a fair price back through the farm gate.”

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Comments

  1. Patrick Francis, 09/05/2015

    It is interesting to compare this optimistic report about live cattle exports and Phil Holmes review of the Northern Beef Situation Analysis in the same edition of Beef Central. Holmes says the Analysis confirms 80% of family cattle businesses in Northern Australia are “economically unsustainable”. He also says “people in the live export trade are on a hiding to nothing – they are not producing enought kilograms.” Makes you wonder about where the right balance is between live exports and domestic processing for individual family businesses.

    Certainly, lighter weight limits on northern live export cattle exposes producers to greater risk, Pat. Lighter turnoff weight means more breeders can be run, but equally, that presents higher risk when seasons turn bad, as they inevitably do. Even an additional 50kg liveweight would make a considerable difference. Editor

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