The Australian cattle industry has agreed to Senator Joe Ludwig’s request to pay $5m from industry funds to pay for the welfare of cattle stranded by the Indonesian live export ban.
However, the money will not come from Meat and Livestock Australia’s levy funds.
Instead it will be withdrawn from the Cattle Disease Contingency Fund, a $20 million reserve established for use in emergency animal health situations such as a major disease outbreak.
The CDCF was developed between 2002 and 2007 from a portion of the 42c component of the transaction levy that is directed to Animal Health Australia and the National Residue Survey.
The remaining $4.58 component of the $5 transaction levy is directed to Meat and Livestock Australia for marketing and Research and Development activities.
The CDFC is administered by a board of trustees made up of representatives from Animal Health Australia, Cattle Council of Australia and the Australian Lot Feeders Association.
The board today approved the use of up to $5 million for the specific purpose of addressing any health and welfare issues affecting the cattle held up by the live export suspension.
Mr Ludwig’s initial request was for MLA to release $5m from its levy reserves to establish the contingency fund.
Heidi Dennis from Cattle Council of Australia said the peak producer body believed the MLA funds were best spent on activities focused on resuming the trade.
“Whereas this fund is specifically available to ensure the health of animals, so that is the main reason why this fund has been used,” she said.
Eligible people will be able to use the money towards transporting animals to the nearest practical market point; costs associatioed with any regulatory requirements to move the cattle; and animal husbandry costs including feed, animal health or biosecurity treatments.
CDCF Chair and Cattle Council of Australia representative Paul Saward said the welfare of stranded cattle was of significant concern, and the release of $5m to aid the northern cattle industry was a prudent use of the industry funds.
“This is a positive development. It is another important step towards resumption of this important export market, one that is critical to Australia’s northern regions,” Mr Saward said.
Agriculture minister Joe Ludwig told ABC's PM radio program last night that he was pleased with the outcome.
"Can I say I welcome the decision by industry to provide the $5 million for the animal welfare contingency fund; it's about the industry stepping up to assist the onshore supply chain," Mr Ludwig said.
"What we have is off farm support; that support provides for some of the defraying of the costs associated with transportation costs, some of the costs associated with domestic licences in that supply chain, and of course some of the issues around animal welfare to maintain animal welfare in that current onshore supply chain."
A press release issued by the Cattle Disease Contingency Fund said cattle owners should make “every reasonable effort to move their animals from the holding facilities as early as possible and to seek the most cost?effective options in dealing with this situation”.
The owners of the affected cattle will be contacted and invited to submit applications to the CDCF for financial assistance to ensure that the welfare of these animals is assured.
Details regarding the provision of financial assistance can be obtained by sending an email to email@example.com
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