Live Export

WA sheep industry seeks more time to export to Middle East

Sheep Central, April 24, 2024

TENS of thousands more sheep could be exported from Western Australia this year if the Federal Government agrees to a proposed 10-day relaxation on the departure date for Middle East live export shipments during the Northern Summer.

On Monday this week, Western Australia’s Minister for Agriculture and Food Jackie Jarvis asked federal Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry to allow Middle East sheep shipment departures from Fremantle for an extra 10 days to 24 June.

Currently, live sheep shipments travelling to some Middle Eastern ports cannot leave Fremantle after 14 June and up to 14 September to avoid hot conditions in the Middle East.  Shipments to most ME ports can recommence after 14 September, or after 21 September for Qatar. Australia’s export rules state that sheep must not be exported from an Australian port between 15 June and 14 September on a vessel that travels through the Red Sea.

Ms Jarvis sought the moratorium change “subject to favourable weather conditions in the Northern Hemisphere and the usual animal welfare considerations”, seeking a reply from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry “as soon as possible.”

Ms Jarvis told Mr Watt that Western Australian farmers are facing one of the worst dry seasons on record, impacting agricultural producers across the state. The minister convened the Western Australian Dry Season Taskforce’s first meeting on 19 April.

Ms Jarvis said the taskforce identified that WA sheep producers have excess stock in the system and need a relief valve and an extra days before the start of the moratorium would allow a significant number of these sheep to be exported.

Mr Watt: told Sheep Central that Minister Jarvis is a strong advocate for rural and regional areas of WA, so it’s no surprise that she would be fighting on their behalf.

“Under legislation introduced by the Nationals in the wake of the Awassi Express tragedy, the responsibility for the administration of the rules around Live Sheep Exports rests with the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

“I will continue working with Minister Jarvis and the WA Government to ensure farmers are supported through this dry spell,” he said.

A single extra ship would be valuable relief for WA sheep producers – ALEC

Industry opinions vary on how many additional shipments the change would allow, but Australian Livestock Exporters Council chief executive officer Mark Harvey-Sutton said even a single additional shipment of livestock from WA could mean that tens of thousands more sheep will be exported.

“This would be a valuable relief for WA producers who are hurting at the moment.

“The WA Government’s assistance in pushing for the reduction the moratorium demonstrates that they understand how valuable live export is to Western Australian producers and it is good that this message is being passed on to their Federal counterparts – hopefully it will help them understand how disastrous the ban of live sheep exports would be for Western Australian farmers and their families,” Mr Harvey Sutton said.

The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council applauded the efforts of WA Minister for Agriculture, Jackie Jarvis, for her efforts in supporting the live export trade out of Western Australia by writing to her Federal counterpart, Minister Watt to call for a delay in the shipping moratorium start date.

“It is pleasing to see Minister Jarvis and the Western Australian Premier, Roger Cook acknowledge that live export is important to Western Australia and nationally,” Mr Harvey-Sutton said.

Mr Harvey-Sutton said that industry had repeatedly warned that the phase out policy was having a direct impact on market conditions by eroding confidence.

“The Federal Government has been warned of this for the last 12 months at least, but has ignored it and refused to accept any responsibility.

“The situation we see today is all of industry’s warnings coming to fruition, and we call on the Albanese Government to finally start listening to WA farmers.”

Moratorium change could allow 100,000 sheep to be exported

Pastoralists and Graziers Association Livestock Committee chair Chris Patmore said delaying the start of the moratorium would enable the departure of at least another 2-3 shipments of sheep that could amount to more than 100,000 extra sheep.

“And it can be done quite safely,” he said.

Mr Patmore said the value of the live export sheep would be worth $50-$60 to farmers, but the forward store condition sheep not suitable for slaughter in Australia and currently had not much value in saleyards.

“If they are not finished, the saleyard price is next to nothing at the moment, because of a huge oversupply and a lack of local buyers or restockers.”

Mr Patmore said there was a mix of markets seeking Australian sheep, including Saudi Arabia.

WAFarmers president John Hassell supported the committee’s decision on the moratorium, but believed it might only mean an extra 20,000 sheep being shipped.

“Unfortunately we are only dealing with 20,000-sheep ships at the moment when we should be having 60,000 sheep on a ship, but the Federal Government is making it difficult.

“There is no confidence among the shipping companies in the industry.

“Why would the exporters bring ships here when they’ve got to find markets elsewhere when the trade is gone?”

Mr Hassell said Mr Watt did not understand that the proposed live sheep by sea phaseout has “absolutely killed” the sheep market in Western Australia “wiping people out left, right and centre.”

“He won’t release the (live export panel) report, there is so much uncertainty, no-one really knows where they are at – the shipping companies, farmers and the shipping companies…

“There are so many livestock still on farms because we haven’t been able to turn livestock off because of this decision, and the Qatar Airlines decision doesn’t help either.”

Sheep Producers of Australia chief executive officer Bonnie Skinner said the Western Australian sheep industry is currently facing an incredibly difficult situation brought on by ongoing dry conditions, financial constraints, and a severely depressed sheep market.

“Sheep Producers Australia has over the past 12 months been working to communicate the risks of the combination of these factors for sheep producers and the industry.

“While producers are working through their own seasonal strategies to manage the prolonged dry season the current market conditions are making it difficult to move certain classes of stock off farm,” she said.

“It is anticipated that this situation will worsen with the upcoming live sheep export moratorium and continuing dry short term rain outlook.

“Live export provides a relief valve to farmers in WA suffering dry conditions and an increase in competition in the sheep market,” Ms Skinner said.

Ms Skinner said Sheep Producers Australia is actively advocating for options that could relieve pressure on producers at this time including reviewing the live export moratorium cut off time for vessels and adding additional air freight access for sheep meat exports out of Perth.

“Sheep Producers Australia is continuing to call for the recognition of the unique and important role live export plays in the WA Sheep and lamb market and its continuation as a market open to WA producers.

“Sheep Producers Australia is a member of the WA Dry Season Taskforce and will continue advocate for ongoing and immediate support for the industry.”

RSPCA opposes reducing prohibition period

An RSPCA spokesperson said the organisation acknowledged the difficult season that WA sheep farmers have had over the past few months with very little rain and fodder now depleting rapidly.

“Throughout all of this, the RSPCA wants to see outcomes that ensure the welfare of Australian sheep and we’re concerned that reducing the Northern Hemisphere summer prohibition period will not do this.

“It would only allow for more Australian sheep to be live exported, in a period where we know the climatic conditions will cause additional and severe stress and pose even further animal welfare risks,” the spokesperson said.

“The current situation demonstrates why it’s so important that the Australian Government allocates funds to a structural adjustment package in the upcoming Federal Budget, to assist farmers to make the transition out of this trade, and why it’s so important the Government legislates, this year, an end date.”


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  1. Alexander Martin, April 28, 2024

    Instead of drought subsidies, just bring back the live sheep export trade.

  2. Denise Lawson, April 26, 2024

    Keep to the timeline, stick to your guns, this cruelty must end. If I were a meat creature I’d rather be humanely euthanised than sent by ship to be treated so inhumanely by our Muslim market. And with the prediction of more such seasons to come, some farmers could perhaps prepare for the unviability of their livelihood. You have a choice, your livestock does not.

  3. Cathrine Suckling, April 25, 2024

    I am in a position as many others, with sheep I cannot sell unless I want to receive a bill. I have been feeding my sheep since last summer, not just the last six months. I have used all my own hay and now have been buying fodder and grain which is costing a fortune that I will not get back through sales. Everyone, the government and agriculture ministers have been sitting on their hands and have done nothing to help. Minister Jarvis is way behind the eight ball, and as for federal and state governments, there are no words to describe their indifference to farmers plight. It has been going on far too long. Very soon we will not have any food security in Australia. I have no fodder for my sheep and is very hard to find. There is nothing on the ground, so what the hell are we supposed to do? Ok, it’s a nice word — ‘euthanize’ the animals. I would like all the procrastinators to come and do the horrible job for me. They want abattoirs and work for the boys. Why haven’t they made a start? It’s all just full of ridiculous ideology.

  4. Robert Nevin, April 25, 2024

    Before the election the government said the livestock trade would cease; another promise.

  5. Glenn Nix, April 24, 2024

    They wont release the report because they know what it’s going to say. Nothing agreeing with Albo and you’re not allowed to disagree with Albo. They have been told what might happen, but WA is a long way away and no-one will notice.

    • Katrina Love, April 25, 2024

      Albo has little to do with it; this is under Minister Watt’s purview and the report will be released. It just won’t recommend an end date as soon as animal protectionists want — by end of 2025 — and it won’t recommend an end date as ridiculous as industry wants — 10-20 years.
      Whatever the recommended end date is — and I predict five years — it needs to be legislated in this term of government to give industry and community certainty.

      • Glenn Nix, May 6, 2024

        Katrina Love, now try to predict what they are going to do in five years that will remove today’s problems. I know you don’t like long distance trucking — 350,000 sheep have gone east in three months. Will that be the solution? Plus an extra million shipper types. They won’t build another meatworks in five years. It’s Albo’s policy, so he has plenty to do with it. No doubt Watt is embarrassed about what is in it, because every WA farmer could have told them for free what was going to happen and they spent millions on a junket with trips to New Zealand.

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