Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, has announced that for the first time in more than four decades Australian livestock exports to Iran are set to commence.
“This is great news for our sheep, cattle and goat farmers, and gives the livestock exports industry the green light to begin trade with Iran,” Minister Joyce said.
“Now that the animal health certification requirements are agreed, exporters can begin establishing Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) compliant supply chains in Iran.
Exports to Iran will be subject to the same animal welfare standards as all other markets.
“As the government negotiations have concluded, it’s over to industry to take the lead with this and begin setting up systems to send Australian livestock to Iran.
“I fully support the live exports trade – livestock exports are an important, ongoing trade for Australia and contribute significantly to the economy.
“This trade supports regional communities and underpins economic returns to the farmgate.
“As Minister I’ve been pleased to announce since being elected, that we’ve regained market access to Bahrain and Egypt. Iran is now another option for our hardworking producers.
“A major priority for the Australian Government is increasing the market opportunities for our Australian producers and we are certainly delivering on this.
“This is another example of the government’s commitment to Australia’s agricultural industries and farming families.
“At this stage, it’s probably too early to speculate on how many Australian sheep we’ll see going to Iran, but I hope to see this trade build as the years go by,” Minister Joyce said.
Iran market has 1 million head potential
Today’s announcement has been welcomed by the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council and the Sheepmeat Council of Australia.
“Today’s announcement has been a long time in the making and comes after many years of hard work by industry and Government officials on both sides,” ALEC chief executive office Alison Penfold said.
“The agreement means that exporters of cattle and sheep can now move to establish commercial arrangements with Iranian importers including supply chains with approved welfare assurance measures.
“In the late 1960’s/early 1970’s Iran was the largest importer of Australian sheep reaching over three million head and industry sees strong potential for the market to reach back into the seven digit range of over around 1 million head of sheep a year.
“That one million head also comes with the benefit of Iran’s use of pre-slaughter stunning and the Australian live export sector’s in-market training and support services around animal welfare.”
Sheepmeat Council of Australia chief executive officer Kathleen Ferme said that today’s announcement is particularly welcome news for sheep producers especially in Western Australia, who have done it tough in the last couple of years.
“The opening of new markets provides great opportunity for producers and potentially increased returns to the farm gate.
“Producers have been waiting with anticipation for the opening of the Iranian market while we continue negotiations to reopen the Saudi Arabia market which has the potential of returning to a million head plus market,” Ms Ferme said.
‘A disaster for animal welfare’: RSPCA
The RSPCA said plans to reopen the live export trade to Iran was a step back for animal welfare and for Australian producers.
“If the government is, as they claim, really concerned about the welfare of Australian animals they would be focused on expanding and promoting the meat trade to Iran rather than live exports,” the RSPCA said in a statement following Mr Joyce announcement on Monday.
“The best welfare outcome for Australian animals is for them to be slaughtered here to Australian standards.
“Rather than expanding the risky live export trade, the government should be focused on promoting the meat trade to Iran which will deliver significantly more long-term benefits to Australian producers.”
Sources: Minister for Agriculture/Australian Livestock Exporters Council/Sheepmeat Council of Australia/RSPCA