LIVE cattle exporter Wellard has finalised the $2.5 million purchase of a south-west Victorian property for development of its first company-owned pre-export quarantine facility in southern Australia.
Wellard’s South East Asia general manager Bernie Brosnan said the 340ha Clonlee property, south-west of Hamilton near Condah, is only 60km from the port of Portland.
The property will become Wellard’s base to secure and induct beef and dairy cattle from throughout Victoria, South Australia and southern New South Wales to meet China’s stringent quarantine access requirements. The site will also service other live export markets.
Wellard plans to start exporting slaughter cattle to China sometime between March and June this year, envisaging the first consignments off the Condah facility by June/July. The first shipments are expected to involve about 3000 cattle, each weighing +500kg.
In time that would increase to single shipments of more than 4000 head, and up to 16,000 head when feeder cattle started to be introduced into the trade, the company said.
“It is likely in the first instance that we will continue to use existing registered premises such as Kobo and Cape Nelson in the short term until we get this (Condah facility) operational.”
The China trade will commence with slaughter cattle, but Mr Brosnan said the company would likely also organise some dairy cattle shipments to Sri Lanka through the Condah facility, but not simultaneously, due to China health protocol requirements.
He said the company was “starting with a blank canvas” with the former grazing property at Condah, which had limited infrastructure.
“It allows us to design the property to what we require,” he said.
Yards for induction and quarantine will be developed first, and then Wellard will apply to have the property initially registered as a 7000-head capacity pre-export quarantine facility. Mr Brosnan said the company hoped to gain registration for the new quarantine facility to coincide with more consistent shipments to China.
He said development of Clonlee into a pre-export quarantine facility would complement existing quarantine facilities in south-west Victoria, so that the company could meet China’s strict quarantine protocols while delivering the number of cattle its customers planned to acquire.
“It’s our first investment in the south. We are going through a similar process in Darwin at the moment for a 20,000 head pre-export quarantine facility and we are still trying to negotiate something for Townsville,” he said.
Chinese import requirements include a seven-day quarantine period in Australia for slaughter cattle being shipped to northern China and an ‘all-in all-out’ requirement which prevents the co-sharing of the facility with other consignments.
Wellard chief operating officer Brad Gosling said the economic development that the Australian Government has created for the beef industry through the negotiation of the Free Trade Agreement (see this morning’s separate story) and health protocol for slaughter cattle with China would benefit cattle producers for decades, and was integral to Wellard’s investment in Victoria.