Input sought on Middle East sheep exports

A discussion paper outlining policy options for sheep exports to, or through, the Middle East during the northern summer months is now available for stakeholder comment.

Minister for Agriculture, Bridget McKenzie, said that live sheep exports were an important part of Australia’s agricultural sector, and underpinned 3,450 jobs across rural and regional Australia.

“The export from Australia of live sheep shipped to, and through, the Middle East resumed on September 23 of this year after the Department of Agriculture prohibited these exports during the northern summer.

READ MORE: Improving oversight in live animal exports

“Feedback on the discussion paper will inform a Regulation Impact Statement (RIS), which will determine the future regulation of live sheep exports to, or through, the Middle East during the northern summer months from 2020 onwards.

“The discussion paper outlines four proposed policy option ideas.

“We are seeking input from stakeholders on the potential economic and regulatory impact of each idea but also welcome alternative options.

“I urge anyone who has a stake in Australia’s live sheep export industry to jump online and have their say on the discussion paper.”

In 2017–18 Australia exported around 2 million live sheep valued at over $259 million to trading partners wanting our high-quality live sheep.

Improving oversight of live animal exports

An independent inspector-general of Live Animal Exports to oversee regulation of the industry is a step closer today with the Bill to establish the position as a statutory appointment passing the Senate.

Agriculture Minister, Bridget McKenzie, said the community deserved greater assurance that animal welfare outcomes for export livestock were being met and monitored.

“Australia’s livestock export industry is an important contributor to our rural and regional communities and to our national economy valued at $1.7 billion and supporting thousands of jobs,” Minister McKenzie said.

“It’s a legitimate trade, however, it won’t be conducted at the expense of animal welfare standards.

READ MORE: Minister moves on sheep exports

“This legislation is concrete proof of this government’s continued commitment to improving the trade—making sure the trade is well regulated and above board.

“Support for the Inspector-General of Live Animal Exports Bill 2019 means there’ll be an entrenched independent check on the Department of Agriculture’s application of the regulations and its exercise of power.

“Our livestock export system is already world class and the Inspector-General will only enhance that. I am confident that the Bill will pass the House of Representatives and become law.

“Once it does I will appoint a suitably qualified person to make sure the system is operating as it should—driving positive change in the industry, improving regulator performance and providing greater confidence to the general community about livestock exports.”

Regulation reset for live export industry

The live export industry will be reset following the completion of the Moss Review into the culture, capability and investigative capacity of the regulator of live exports.

Minister for agriculture and water resources, David Littleproud, said Australians were upset when they saw footage of sheep dying on voyages to the Middle East, in April, during a shipment in August 2017.

They were further angered that the report of the incident did not match the footage, said Littleproud.

“Australians need to be confident the independent regulator of the live export industry will hold the industry to account. It was clear we needed an independent inquiry into the culture and capability of the regulator.


” The live export industry needs a tough cop on the beat and the department must become a capable, trusted and effective regulator,” he said.

“Today I reset the live export industry to make it sustainable,” said Littleproud.

There will be an external, independent inspector general, of live animal exports, who will oversee the department’s regulation of live export.

A principal regulatory officer within the department will help improve regulatory practices and compliance.

An animal welfare branch within the department and the development of animal welfare indicators will be used as part of compliance systems.

The department will improve systems to allow concerns raised by staff members to be addressed transparently and promptly.

“The principal regulatory officer will be key in driving cultural change within the department as well as improving compliance and investigations,” said Littleproud.

“Employees of the department need to be confident their concerns about animal welfare will be taken seriously and the department will improve systems that encourage this,” he said.

These actions follow a move to put independent observers on each sheep vessel to the Middle East and changes implemented after the McCarthy Review, which included a 28 per cent reduction in stocking densities and speeding up the new Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock to the end of 2018.

Elders to cease live exports of cattle and sheep

Agribusiness Elders will sell its subsidiary North Australian Cattle Company (NACC), and thus exit the live export business.

As the ABC reports, NACC currently ships cattle to Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia and flies cattle and sheep to China.

The move follows a comprehensive review of the company’s live export business and, according to CEO Mark Allison, does not reflect on the viability of the industry as a whole.

He said in a statement that the company remains supportive of the live export industry, and the business remains committed to the needs of its livestock producer clients.

“Our focus remains on increasing client access to a range of markets, including live export markets for their stock, and we will continue to work with industry live exporters to market our clients’ livestock,” Allison said.

He added that the export, logistics and shipping of live cattle to long haul destinations is no longer central to Elders’ strategy.

“Elders reported a loss of $2.9m from its Live Export businesses in the 6 months to 30 March 2016.  That poor result had included a loss of $3.8m attributable to the long haul business.  Since that report, margin performance in the long haul business has continued to be poor and we believe that margins are unlikely to recover in the near to medium term,” said Allison.

“In addition, we do not see that the China feeder and slaughter trade, which is yet to fully open, will deliver margins or a return on capital at levels that meets our, and our shareholders’, expectations.  As a result, we consider that the long haul of live cattle is best suited to specialist logistics operators.”

Elders expects an underlying EBIT for the full year to 30 September 2016 in the range of $54-57m.

This result reflects better than average retail activity due to seasonal conditions and strong livestock prices driving the agency result. Conversely, high cattle prices have impacted margins in the Feed and Processing businesses.

Upon finalisation of the Live Export exit, Elders’ will have circa $25m of working capital which can be redeployed in areas that meet return on capital expectations.

Image: The Advertiser

Clive Palmer’s anti-China rant could impact on cattle trade, Barnett

Reports have been circulating that China has gone cold on negotiations to open its ports to live cattle imports following disparaging comments from controversial politician and businessman, Clive Palmer.

Palmer made the comments on the ABC network’s Q&A program last week where he labelled the Chinese government as “mongrels” that “shoot their own people”.

WA premier Colin Barnett said that Palmers comments threatened to compromise talks with China on a free trade agreement, The West reports.

"We are already seeing some evidence of them pushing back on live cattle exports," said Barnett.

"There is some hesitancy and cooling of relations."

Barnett said that he doubts Palmers comments will have a lasting effect of relations between the two countries, however those who believe his comments don’t matter are “naive”.

Palmer yesterday issued an apology to the Chinese ambassador to Australia, Ma Zhaoxu.

"In keeping an open mind, I now come to the realisation that what I said on Q&A was an insult to Chinese people everywhere and I wish to assure them they have my most genuine and sincere apology," the apology read.

"It is in the interest of the whole world that Australia and China have good relations."

Live cattle exports to China have been of key interest to Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest, who announced earlier this year that he had formed the Australia-Sino 100 Year Agricultural Partnership to boost trade which has the backing of the Business Council of Australia and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Forrest is also reported to have been discussing the initiative with the world’s largest meat protein supplier, China’s WH Group.


Australia’s live cattle exports up 79 percent, MLA

According to recent data from Meat and Livestock Australia, live cattle exports in Australia have increased by 79 percent on last year.

With an export figure of 1.13 million cattle valued at $1.05 billion, the 2013-14 financial year represents the highest fiscal year volume on record, The Weekly Times reports.

According to the MLA, Australia’s largest export market was Indonesia who purchased a total of 624,749 cattle – double the amount of the previous financial year.

Vietnam represented Australia’s second largest market at 131,367 head of cattle, eight times greater than the previous year.

When it comes to live sheep exports, the total number was down by two percent, representing 2.02 million at the value of $185 million.

Kuwait was the biggest buyer, purchasing 758,944 sheep – up nine percent of the year prior, while shipments to Bahrain increased by 61 percent to a total of 100,225 sheep.

Goat sales for the period were on the up representing a 33 percent increase on the 2012-13 financial year representing a total of 81,650 goats and valued at $9.9 million. Malaysia was the larger customer taking 61,145 goats, followed by Singapore at 17,855.


Teys Australia rejects Port Alma live exports proposal

Teys Australia has rejected a proposal to use Port Alma for live exports, stating the city of Rockhampton would suffer.

General manager of corporate affairs at Teys, Tom Maguire told The Morning Bulletin that the move would result in less employment in the Rockhampton area,

"We understand from a producer's point of view they want to have more choices, but for the city of Rockhampton live exports out of Port Alma would be unequivocally bad," he said.

"It means decreased value into the economy and less people we're able to employ."

Teys is one of the biggest employers in the Rockhampton region and local MP, Bill Byrne said that while the Port Alma proposal may deliver some short to medium term gains, financial benefit in the long run remains to be seen.

Byrne echoed Maguire’s comments stating that the jobs will be under threat if the proposal gets the go-ahead.

"I am all about defending and creating local jobs, rather than exporting them overseas," said Byrne.

Maguire also said that while Teys is currently at capacity and unable to take cattle for some weeks, the market is going to be slowing down soon.

"We know the cattle market is going to be very tight in the coming years," he said.


RSPCA wants livestock export report made public

The RSPCA is calling on the Federal Government to act on recommendations of a report completed in May last year on Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL).

The report was only made public last week, after the RSPCA lodged a freedom of information request, ABC Rural reports.

The report endorses draft recommendations that list strict guiding principles for selection, transport and handling of livestock.

The RSPCA's chief scientist, Bidda Jones, who was a member of the committee that reviewed the standards, wants the draft recommendations released for public consultation.

"The committee agreed to a number of significant changes, from the previous version, but there are also options in that draft, so there are some issues that the committee didn't reach agreement on."

She says the RSPCA wanted standards on stocking density changed to give animals more space, but the industry disagrees.

"We feel that if you put that out to public consultation, with those options, you've got a chance for people to express their views and then end up with a better standard," Jones said.

In a statement, the Australian Livestock Exporters Council, which was also represented on the review committee, says any changes to the standards must be based on science.

The council's CEO Alison Penfold said some of the proposals put by the RSPCA would make the live export trade uneconomical or uncompetitive without benefiting animal welfare.

"By way of example, RSPCA's claims about stocking densities are incorrect, demonstrate a lack of practical understanding of animal behaviour and manipulate animal welfare motives to make the trade unviable," Penfold said.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said the government was looking to improve the live export trade, but in a way that wouldn't shut it down.

"My department is currently at work investigating the issues that they believe need further investigation, but I'm not going into detail as to what our outcomes will be," Joyce said.

He said he wanted to see the live cattle and sheep trade expanded.

"It's vitally important for the price of cattle that we keep the live trade growing, otherwise we will be totally reliant on the processing sector and that means we get a depressed price.

"No matter how far I go there are some groups that will never be happy until we shut the industry down, and I'll tell you right now, I'm not going to do that," Joyce said.

Mining billionaire, Andrew Forrest said that Australia has fallen behind other export nations such as Brazil in the race to cater to China’s demand for beef.

Forrest said that Australia is at risk of repeating the same mistakes made within the iron ore industry which enabled countries such as Brazil to capitalise on billions in export sales.

Forrest said that as it stands, Australia is not properly playing to its strengths or competing strategically in the international marketplace.

Forrest bought Harvey Beef earlier this month in a deal believed to be worth $40m.

Harvey beef is WA’s biggest beef exporter, and the only one accredited for exports to China.


Australia has fallen behind in race to feed China, Andrew Forrest

Mining billionaire, Andrew Forrest says that Australia has fallen behind other export nations such as Brazil in the race to cater to China’s demand for beef.

Forrest, the owner of Western Australia’s largest beef producer and exporter, Harvey Beef, said that Australia is at risk of repeating the same mistakes made within the iron ore industry which enabled countries such as Brazil to capitalise on billions in export sales.

Forrest says that as is stands, Australia is not properly playing to its strengths or competing strategically in the international marketplace.

"We pride ourselves on producing some of the best food in the world and that pride is justified," Forrest told The West. "But are we competing well enough? No.

"I'm afraid we are not the ones feeding China. It is all the other big agricultural nations.

Forrest says that in order for the country to compete effectively on an international scale, Australia’s agricultural sector needs to undergo significant change including amendments to foreign policies and well as working towards developing solid client relationships.

"Our politicians and industry leaders need to take a very cold shower because if we take our clients for granted, they will go somewhere else,” he said.

"They did it in the iron ore industry because of union instability and because we were so focused on competing with one another."

In order to boost trade with China, Forrest formed the Australia-Sino 100 Year Agricultural Partnership which has the backing of the Business Council of Australia and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Forrest is also reported to have been discussing the initiative with the world’s largest meat protein supplier, China’s WH Group.

"We (Australia) have got to stop slapping ourselves on the back and look over the boundary fence and see how tough farmers have been doing it," he said.

"If farmers hadn't been doing it tough for the past 20 years, we could believe the rhetoric, but it is bulldust. We are not the food bowl of Asia.

"If you go into almost any supermarket in China, you see Uruguay, you see Brazil, you see Argentina, all these other countries providing meat and produce. Where is Australia? It is not there."


Forrest buys Harvey Beef for $40m

Harvey Beef has been sold to mining billionaire Andrew Forrest in a deal believed to be worth $40m.

Harvey beef is WA’s biggest beef exporter, and the only one accredited for exports to China, The West Australian reports.

Forrest pledged to invest in upgrading the abattoir which processes about 145,000 cattle per year and plans to open up live cattle exports to China.

The deal signed in Perth between Forrest’s company Minderoo and a Hong-Kong based private equity fund returns Harvey Beef to local hands for the first time in almost a decade.

“Following detailed discussions with the Chinese leadership, we are determined to ensure that the Australian agricultural industry’s future in China is just as bright as our mining future,” Forrest said.

The Harvey Beef plant is 140km south of Perth and employs about 300 people.

“We hope this acquisition will send a strong message of confidence in the future of the industry,” Forrest said. “To provide confidence to increase supply and make Australia the supplier of choice to meet Asia’s long term food security requirements.”

Forrest has been pushing to secure a deal with China for live cattle exports since last year.

Forrest and Australian agribusiness Elders have been working together to create a supply chain into China and talks with senior Chinese officials in WA surrounding the relaxing of Beijing’s strict quarantine laws represent a significant step towards the venture becoming a reality.

Minderoo will take ownership immediately and has no plans to change the current management team.


Forrest and Elders announce live export plan for China

Mining tycoon Andrew Forrest and Australian agribusiness Elders are pursuing a deal to further open up live cattle exports to China.

The deal will see Forrest and Elders capitalise on China’s increasing taste for Australian beef, and experts believe that the opening of the Chinese market will cause a surge in the value of grazing land and encourage investment in larger cattle herds – leading to an overall increase in prices, The West Australian reports.

Forrest and Elders have been working together to create a supply chain into China since last year, and recent talks with senior Chinese officials in WA surrounding the relaxing of Beijing’s strict quarantine laws represent a significant step towards the venture becoming a reality.

Both Forrest and Elders have allegedly been in talks with a number of Chinese processors in relation to the deal including a pork and chicken processor in the Hainan district.

The Western Australian state government has also been working towards developing a live export trade with China. Rob Delane, the director general of WA’s Department of Agriculture and Food said that the department was ‘optimistic’ that the Chinese government will approve the deal.

“We are very optimistic, and doing a lot of work at the moment, that a significant market for live cattle for slaughter can be opened up," he said.

Delane noted that the Australian cattle industry was already struggling to keep up with the live export trade to Indonesia and other South-East Asian countries, stating that at this stage herd numbers were “clearly a limitation”.  

Forrest however has increased his ownership of pastoral land to than 720,000ha in anticipation of such a deal coming to fruition.


Live exports debate reignited over 4,000 sheep deaths

The live exports debate has been reignited following the death of more than 4,000 sheep on a ship bound for Qatar.

The sheep died in August from heat exhaustion, after spending 21 days on-board a live exports ship, which left Fremantle for Qatar.

According to The Newcastle Herald, Jordanian-owned company LSS is based in Perth and is already under investigation for two breaches of live export regulations in Jordan and Gaza.

Details of August’s incident are expected next week.

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said the incident was further evidence that the live exports trade in Australia needs to end. "This is the worst animal disaster at sea in recent history and another damning example of how the government continues to fail animals in the live export trade," she said.

"The only solution to end this horrific suffering is to end live exports and rebuild our domestic meat manufacturing by moving to chilled box meat exports."

However, the federal government's Department of Agriculture says these suggestions fail to consider strong cultural preferences for freshly slaughtered meat in Middle Eastern countries.

A statement issued by LSS said the sheep were loaded according to Australian standards but died during an extreme weather event on day 21 of the voyage.

“"Industry and Government supported heat stress risk modelling computer software was used to assess this voyage and is used by the company to assess all voyages to the Middle East and northern Hemisphere destination,” it read.

The statement adds that LSS has abided by government directives to increase space requirements for sheep and that this reduced mortality rates on-board.

"The Department of Agriculture increased the minimum space requirements for sheep by 10 per cent above Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock requirements for the next consignment of livestock on the vessel," LSS said.

"LSS complied with this requirement and the next voyage in November 2013 resulted in a low mortality rate of 0.02 percent."

The live exports trade has been an ongoing point of contention in Australia, following a number of recent incidents including the airing of footage on the ABC of animal cruelty practices at Egypt's Ain Sokhna and Ismailia facilities, as well as the infamous 2011 ban on live exports, also prompted by footage of animal cruelty practices in an Indonesian abattoir.

The ban was heavily criticised by the cattle industry with farmers arguing their livelihood had been threatened – an argument which gained traction once the Indonesian government cut its intake after the ban was lifted.


Beef producer calls for federal funding to increase onshore processing

Jack Burton, owner of the 60,000 head Yeeda Pastoral Company has criticised the government for failing to support investment in onshore processing.

Burton, who is building a $20m abattoir with the capacity to process 50,000 cattle per year, says that further investment in onshore processing will reduce the nation’s dependence on live exports, a move that has been backed by animal welfare groups such as the RSPCA, who claim that the Northern Australian cattle crisis could have been avoided if adequate infrastructure was put in place.

Burton says that he has attempted to contact Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce for several weeks to discuss the notion of Government funding for an abattoir in the Kimberley, The West reports.

"We are not building a massive abattoir, it is basically for our own use with some other cattle, but now that we have taken it this far it would only take about 25 per cent ($5 million) of the current spend to take the capacity out to 125,000 head and make it a regional facility," said Burton.

"We'd like the Government to put its hand in its pocket to help with that in some way because cash flow is tight and we just don't have that sort of cash.

Burton says that the Nation's recent spying row with Indonesia has created further uncertainty within the live export industry, and that now is the time to invest in new infrustructure. 

"With the industry concerned about wearing some of the fallout from the Indonesian situation, this is a chance for the Government to get behind us but they are still being either non-committal or obstructive."


Indonesia phone tapping scandal could hurt live exports

The boss of Elders is hoping the Indonesian phone tapping scandal will be resolved before the live export trade is affected.

According to Stock Journal, Indonesia has threatened to freeze its live exports trade with Australia after it was uncovered that Australian spies had tapped the phones of president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife.
Elders chief executive, Malcolm Jackman, said if this happens, both the Australian industry and Indonesian consumers will be hurt.

"Nobody wants to see that, that's for sure," Jackman said. "My observation is on both sides, Australian and Indonesian, there has been a bit of rhetoric, but on the other hand … everybody wants to keep this as a diplomatic issue. As a businessman leading a company that has a large presence in Indonesia I endorse those sentiments."

The Australian Livestock Exporters Council has said there's been no disruption to the cattle trade since the spying story broke, with the council anticipating the number of cattle exported to Indonesia this year will be 150,000 above quota.

Jackman said a freeze on live exports would not only drive beef prices in Indonesia up, but would take the cattle industry in Australia back to the days when the Gillard government froze all live exports to Indonesia amid claims abattoir workers were mistreating animals.

"There'd be no winners from a trade point of view in terms of any of this rhetoric turning into action," Jackman said.                                           

Elders is Australia’s biggest live cattle exporter.


PETA ad rejected by Sydney Ferries

Outspoken animal activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has had its advertisement that shows sheep jam-packed in ‘filthy stalls’ aboard a live export ship rejected by Sydney Ferries.

A spokesperson for NSW Transport said that the ad was rejected as it did not comply with the advertising contract between Transport for NSW and Harbour City Ferries which stipulates that ‘contentious issues’ in advertising material will not be permitted, The Weekly Times Now reports.

"Under the contract between Transport for NSW and Harbour City Ferries, the operator must not advertise or permit advertising `political, religious or other subject matter which is contentious or offensive'," he said.

Campaign coordinator for PETA, Claire Fryer said that the rejection of the advertisement is preventing Sydney commuters from relating to the horrors that the animals are subjected too during live export.

"It's taking away the chance for commuters to relate to the animals," she said.

"It's obviously confronting to see the reality these animals live in… however, this is the reality of live-exports."

PETA's advertisement comes at a time when live exports have once again hit headlines. 

 Animal welfare group, Animals Australia shot footage earlier this month that shows the serious mistreatment of Australian sheep in Jordan, including roadside sales of the animals which breaches the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS). 

ESCAS was set up by the Federal governement in 2011 which made livestock exporters responsible for the treatment of animals during transit, and right up to the point of slaughter.


New animal cruelty footage emerges from the Middle East

Animal welfare group, Animals Australia shot footage earlier this month of the serious mistreatment of Australian sheep in Jordan, placing cruelty within the live animal export trade in the spotlight once again.

The footage which was supplied by the group to the ABC, shows sheep being sold individually and then slaughtered in the street in extremely inhumane ways.  The footage also shows other animals having stones thrown at them and sheep being stuffed in to the back of car boots and vans.

Animals Australia said that the sheep are identifiable as Australian due to the appearance of the animals, and ear tags that identify which farms the animals come from.

Animals Australia raised concerns earlier this month by alerting the Federal Department of Agriculture to the severe breaches of live export regulations occurring in Jordan and Kuwait, where Australian sheep were being sold at roadside markets in the lead up to the Eid Al-Adha festival – a Muslim festival that is celebrated by slaughtering sheep and sharing the meat with those in need.

The Federal Government introduced the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) in 2011 following evidence of animal cruelty in Indonesia which made livestock exporters responsible for the treatment of animals during transit and right up to the point of slaughter.

“One of the primary motivators for the introduction of these regulations was to prevent the brutal treatment of Australian animals documented every year during this religious festival,” said Animals Australia Campaign Director Lyn White in a statement.

White said that she saw over 10,000 Australian animals sold outside the ESCAS system at 32 different locations over the two days that the footage was filmed.

White said that she believes the Department of Agriculture has instigated an investigation into the serious breaches of the system.

"It's the failure of the exporter to respond that I think has shocked the Department of Agriculture and the industry itself, who know that what is absolute contempt for the regulations is completely contrary to the interests of the industry, let alone to the interests of Australian animals, "White told Lateline.

Only two companies export sheep to Jordon from Australia, Livestock Shipping Services and Wellard. Wellard states that none of the animals depicted in the footage were supplied by the company.

"Wellard has viewed the footage and none of the sheep pictured were supplied by Wellard to our Jordanian customer," the company said in a statement.

"In addition, a post-Eid Festival ESCAS audit conducted by an independent, accredited auditor, and the reports from the large team Wellard sent to Jordan to assist our client with animal welfare both indicated that our client's supply chain remained robust and that animal welfare was maintained."

The other exporter, Livestock Shipping Services, confirmed that some of the animals in the footage originated from farms where the company sources.

Livestock Shipping Services said that the treatment of the animals was “unacceptable” and that the company with launch an investigation as to how the sheep ended up being sold outside the ESCAS system.


Potential live export breaches reported in Jordan and Kuwait

The Australian Livestock Exporters Council has called for an urgent investigation by the Department of Agriculture into allegations that thousands of sheep are being sold outside approved supply chains in Jordon and Kuwait.

Animal rights group, Animals Australia alerted the Federal Department of agriculture to the severe breaches of live export regulations occurring in Jordan and Kuwait, where Australian sheep are allegedly being sold at roadside markets.

The group state that Australian sheep are facing brutal treatment and slaughter during the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice due to commence tomorrow.

“One of the primary motivators for the introduction of these regulations was to prevent the brutal treatment of Australian animals documented every year during this religious festival,” said Animals Australia Campaign Director Lyn White.

“Australians have been horrified by scenes of Australian sheep being shoved into car boots and brutally slaughtered and now this year, despite the existence of these regulations, thousands of sheep will again face this fate.”

Alison Penfold, chief executive of the Australian Livestock Council said that the council is ‘deeply concerned’ for the welfare of the animals.

"Our gravest concern at any time, but particularly during the religious Festival of Eid al Adha is that Australian livestock could exit controlled facilities where we cannot assure welfare,” Penfold told The Weekly Times Now.

"Should these allegations be proven then we expect nothing less than any failure to comply with the federal regulations (ESCAS) to be called out publicly and tough penalties applied to the exporter or exporters responsible for the supply chains at fault."

Penfold said that exporters have been putting in place a specially designed management program for this year’s festival period which is designed to provide extra control arrangements to ensure the welfare of Australian livestock.

"Additional exporter staff and Australian welfare consultants have been deployed to the Middle East and South East Asia and are on the ground now at facilities to ensure that Australian livestock are treated humanely while respecting the religious and cultural significance of this festival,” she said.

"Unfortunately, this is little consolation in the face of such serious allegations in two supply chains."


Abbott’s Jakarta visit delivers ‘breakthrough’ in live cattle trade

Prime minister Tony Abbott’s recent visit to Indonesia has resulted in a special quota of 53,000 ‘slaughter ready’ cattle, in addition to the December quarter quota of 46,000 cattle which will be headed to feedlots before processing.

The negotiations were headed by two agricultural ministries prior to Abbott’s arrival, and included a compromise on Indonesia’s demand for animal health tracking information, something which was previously rejected by Australians as being unacceptable, The Australian reports.

However, Malcolm Jackman, chief executive of Elders said that cattle producers are unlikely to be able to provide such numbers by the end of the year.

"I suspect that 53,000 in three months will be a bit of a struggle but I think that people will get after it pretty rapidly," he said.

Jackman said that Indonesia serves as a highly important market for the Australian cattle industry and that producers intend on maintaining healthy business relationships.

"It's by far the most natural market — the market's well-established, the relationships are well-established and because it's so close, it works really well," he said.

In addition, Abbott also demonstrated a positive response to Indonesia’s plan to invest in 1.5m hectares of northern Australian cattle land – a plan which will undoubtedly be subject to an investigation by the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Abbott said that there are still a lot of negotiations that will need to take place in regards to the live cattle trade, however he was intent on contrasting his recent efforts with the Gillard government’s 2011 suspension of the live cattle trade which was halted due to evidence of animal cruelty.

"We can work together — but it will take some effort, especially after the shock of the former Australian government cancelling the live-cattle export trade in panic at a TV program," he told a business breakfast.

"Nothing like this can ever be allowed to happen again."

"Last year, I visited abattoirs in Indonesia which were quite comparable to those in Australia and reject any notion that Indonesian standards are lower than Australia's."

Earlier this year, animal welfare groups around Australia including the RSPCA called for a restructure away from live exports in favour of a meat-only export trade to ensure that animals are slaughtered humanely. 

Lynne Bradshaw, president of the RSPCA said that as live export is a high risk industry, overnight market shocks and interruptions to trade will continue to create uncertainty and impact producers unless a restructure is formed.


New $85m NT abattoir gets the go-ahead

Confidence amongst Northern Territory cattle farmers will no doubt be boosted after hearing a proposal for a new $85 million Livingstone abattoir has gotten the go-ahead from the Australian Agricultural Company.

When AACo MD and chief executive, David Farley, an advocate for the new facility, quit its future was in doubt, but the agricultural company yesterday gave the project its final approval.

According to weeklytimesnow, building the abattoir will allow AACo to access higher global beef prices for its wholesale beef division. It will also create 270 jobs in the area and give cattle farmers a secondary market to back up the live export trade, which has struggled since the infamous ban in 2011.


Rudd says live cattle quota will be determined by Indonesia

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has placed the ball in Indonesia’s court regarding live cattle quotas.

Rudd had recently discussed the issue with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during his visit to the country earlier in the month and said that Australian cattle producers will have to wait for Indonesia to make a decision, The Australian reports.

"I've made representations to the Indonesians about that . . . we'll wait to see what they have to say," Rudd told ABC radio in North Queensland.

Rudd emphasised the importance of Australian beef imports to Indonesia as the country is looking to expand its cattle own herd in the future.

Rudd believes that the expansion could represent a prime opportunity for the Australian beef industry long term with the inclusion of an animal genetic investment facility.

Relations between Australia and Indonesia were damaged by a temporary one-month ban on live exports in 2011 due animal cruelty allegations in Indonesian abattoirs. The claim deeply offended Indonesia and as such, the trading relationship between the two countries has remained scarred.

The Cattle Council of Australia has welcomed Prime Minister Rudd’s talks and has said that they represent the “first step in starting afresh” in regards to trading with Indonesia.