THE Federal Government and the Australian Live Exporters Council have just minutes ago confirmed that feeder and slaughter cattle health protocols have been signed today with Chinese representatives delivering unprecedented Australian live cattle access to Asian markets.
The agreement increases the suite of market opportunities to underpin a “one million head” trade to Asia and the region, Australian Livestock Exporters Council chief executive Alison Penfold said in a statement issued just minutes ago.
“Concluding this much anticipated agreement on access conditions for feeder and slaughter cattle into China is a major breakthrough for the Australian livestock export industry and significantly improves the market diversification options for Australian exporters and producers,” Ms Penfold said.
“Recent market access achievements have contributed significantly to improved farm gate returns for Australian producers while continuing to support over 10,000 jobs across Australia. The Australian trade’s overseas presence has also helped lift animal welfare standards with new and improved infrastructure and the training of over 8,000 people in proper handing and slaughter practices through the extension work of the MLA/LiveCorp Live Export Program (LEP).
“Australia will be the first country to export feeder and slaughter cattle to China. This matches the strong commercial interest from Chinese customers to fill existing and purpose built feedlots and abattoirs developed to help satisfy hungry consumer demand for red meat and off the back of Australia’s reputation as a reliable quality cattle breeder and supplier.
“The true potential of the China market is something exporters are very keen to explore with a steady stream of quality cattle as soon as possible.
“While the protocol defines the necessary health and preparation conditions for cattle to China to enable the trade to commence, commercial agreements need to be finalised, ESCAS supply chains still need to be established and import permits need to be issued by Chinese authorities.
“This could take some time so it is difficult to say just when we will see the first ships depart but obviously we hope in the next couple of months.”
Ms Penfold said that expectations about supplying the market need to be moderated by the health, quarantine and cattle specification conditions contained in the Protocol and required by regulations governing the live trade.
“While good access is provided, it comes with conditions on exporters in preparing consignments including that cattle must be HGP free, be resident on the farm of origin for three months and must be pregnancy tested empty.
“Cattle will need to be prepared in registered quarantine premises and in line with the welfare requirements of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock.
“There are also specific requirements for the export of feeder and slaughter cattle from Australia’s bluetongue virus zone to China’s bluetongue virus areas and limitations on ports of entry. That said there is access for northern and southern cattle.
“Exporting to China under the agreed health protocol will need the particular expertise and knowledge of licensed exporters and exporters will obviously provide cattle specification information to producers when they go to market looking for cattle.”
Ms Penfold took the opportunity of today’s signing to pay tribute to the people involved in negotiating the Health Protocol.
“I want to acknowledge and thank the Minister, the Department of Agriculture’s Animal Biosecurity Team, the Live Export Animal Branch and the staff of LEP.
“Today’s announcement has been many years in the making and the Departmental officials and LiveCorp/MLA staff involved have gone to exceptional lengths to ensure Australian interests were well represented at all times.
“The Protocol is a testament to the industry and government collaboration and cooperation and recognition that the Australian Government is focused on achieving new market opportunities for the livestock export sector and Australian cattle producers,” Ms Penfold said.
More detail, reaction on Beef Central as details come to hand.