A SHIPMENT of cattle destined to be exported to China has been halted by the Department of Agriculture, on the grounds strict export protocols have allegedly been breached.
However the exporter responsible for the shipment was directed by the Department of Agriculture on Friday, August 23, to halt the shipment.
The Department of Agriculture confirmed the halt to Beef Central with the following statement:
“This decision was due to the department’s concerns that elements of China’s strict export protocols had not been adhered to in relation to this specific consignment.
“This matter does not relate to Bluetongue zones.
“A joint investigation between the department and Agriculture Victoria is underway, and as such it would be inappropriate to provide any further details at this time.”
The Department said it was continuing to engage with Chinese authorities to provide regular updates.
The cattle were in a pre-export quarantine holding feedlot near Portland at the time of the order and had not been loaded. It is understood the cattle remain in the feedlot and the ship has continued to incur daily demurrage fees – which can be in the order of tens of thousands of dollars a day – at the exporter’s expense since the halt was ordered.
While the details of the alleged protocol breach remain unclear it is believed the Department’s concerns relate to NLIS tag discrepancies.
Asked about the status of the cattle the Department of Agriculture told Beef Central on the weekend there are no current restrictions on the domestic movement of the cattle.
The Department said the movement of the cattle domestically was a commercial decision for the exporter.
Asked for details on how many cattle are involved, the Department said it was not in a position to comment on details of the consignment.
Beef Central has asked the export company involved for comment on the ongoing issue.
Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council Chief Executive Officer Mark Harvey-Sutton said full details were not yet clear and the council hoped the Department was able to conclude its investigation quickly.
“Obviously given it is an active investigation we’re not aware of all of the details,” he told Beef Central.
“Integrity and traceability systems should be adhered to at all times and as I understand it this is an issue that goes to the strength of our system.
“Obviously it is drastic action when a consignment is halted, and we hope the department concludes its investigation as quickly as possible.”