A Brazilian judge has ordered the temporary suspension of the export of live cattle from Brazil, following a campaign against the trade by animal rights group, the National Forum for the Defense and Protection of Animals.
Federal Judge Djalma Moreira Gomes is reported to have issued a court order granting an injunction by the group, which sought to prevent a shipment of cattle aboard the MV Nada being exported from the Port of Santos to Turkey on animal welfare grounds. A veterinary report had stated the animals were held in tiny and unhygienic spaces according to media reports.
The cattle – the number on board varies in reports from around 10,000 to 27,000 calves – were being exported by Minerva, Brazil’s largest cattle exporter and one of the country’s largest meat processors.
In his decision, reported by Brazilian media, Judge Djalma Moreira Gomes wrote he was accepting the petition “to prevent the export for slaughter of live animals, from throughout the national territory, until the destination country (Turkey) adopts slaughter practices in line with those of the Brazilian legal system.”
The decision reportedly amounts to a national suspension of all live cattle from Brazil, however there is some uncertainty as to whether a single judge had the authority to order a national suspension.
The judge said exports can only restart when “guarantees of adequate treatment are provided”.
Australia’s livestock export trade is watching the developments closely, particularly those companies with ships currently serving export runs from Brazil to markets in the Middle East and Europe.
Wellard Limited currently has one vessel in Brazil. However the exporter has no Brazilian cattle currently contracted for export.
Wellard advised the ASX of the Brazilian export suspension issue this morning.
“Wellard is monitoring the situation in Brazil. We’re hopeful this current issue will be resolved in the short term so Brazil can begin exporting cattle again. It is important to note that Wellard operates in multiple countries, so expects it would be able to mitigate the effect of a protracted suspension in Brazil should it occur. Wellard will talk to its clients regarding the sourcing of cattle from alternative supplier countries, should it become necessary to make up any shortfall from Brazil,” said Wellard Executive Director Operations Fred Troncone.
It is understood the Brazil suspension is being challenged by Minerva. At the time of sending out Beef Central’s daily news email today, marine websites appeared to show the Nada was underway using its engine with Turkey listed as its destination. But it was not clear whether that meant it had been allowed to commence its journey to Turkey or was moving to anchor away from port.
Brazil exports about 400,000 cattle per year.
The Animal rights groups bringing the case said the decision represented an extremely important point in the history of Brazil’s protection and defense of animal.
“We hope that the export of live animals will be definitively banned,” Patrycia Sato, veterinary surgeon and animal welfare coordinator of Animal Forum, said in a statement.
“On the long trajectories traveled on the high seas, it is not possible to guarantee even the minimum animal welfare requirements, much less the standards set by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which Brazil is a signatory of,” she said.
“We are acting against the export of live cattle since 2016, pointing out the various irregularities of this activity, so that it will not go unnoticed by Brazilians.”
The judge’s written decision also ordered the unloading of all the animals currently on the ship, as well as their return to the farms of origin, until the countries of destination commit themselves to due care and the extinction of cruel practices.
Brazilian animal rights groups have previously urged the Brazilian industry to adopt Australian-stype welfare standards, as reported by Beef Central last year.