18 February 2016
Future of Australian livestock export jobs and businesses at risk from regulatory cost burden despite strong 2015 export figures
LIVESTOCK exporters have today welcomed confirmation that strong demand from South East Asia ensured 2015 was a record trade period for the industry, with more than 1.33 million cattle exported for the calendar year.
The market report for 2015, to be released by Meat & Livestock Australia later today, estimated the record cattle throughput was worth $1.47 billion FOB.
The MLA report will also confirm that almost 2,000,000 sheep worth $246m were exported in 2015, with demand from Middle East countries led by Kuwait and the UAE again dominating the trade. More than 90,000 goats worth in excess of $10m were exported over the calendar year, with the overwhelming majority secured by Malaysia.
Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council CEO Alison Penfold said while the figures show that exporters were responding to strong demand for Australian quality livestock, they did so in the face of a number of significant business challenges and pressure brought on by Australia’s costly and “clunky, rigid and complex” regulatory system.
“The strong export figures are further evidence of the significant contribution the livestock export industry makes to the economy, to regional jobs and to leading improvements in infrastructure, handling and slaughter practices in our markets. But beyond the headlines exporters face a costly and inefficient regulatory system that places Australian exporters at a significant competitive disadvantage to all of the other 100-plus livestock exporting nations,” Ms Penfold said.
“Australian exporters have invested heavily in the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) because animal welfare and industry sustainability go hand-in-hand, but the Australian Government must work harder and faster at addressing the regulatory cost burden, mountains of unnecessary paperwork and time-zapping, inefficient bureaucratic processes.”
Live cattle exports accounted for 13pc of the Australia’s overall 2015 cattle turnoff (a combination of animals slaughtered domestically and live exports), as 9.01 million head of adult cattle were slaughtered.
While Indonesia’s intake of 619,000 head was limited by permit allocations and represented a 15 per cent year-on-year retreat, overall export numbers for South East Asia were boosted thanks to significant growth in the trade with Vietnam, which effectively doubled the number of Australian cattle it imported to reach an estimated 350,000 head.
China maintained its strong market presence in the trade of live dairy cattle in southern Australia, taking 56,120 breeders out the national total of 73,600 head which was worth $170 million.
Ms Penfold said the livestock export industry was facing significant threats to its business from global competitors such as Brazil which had significantly lower regulatory costs than Australia and that the disadvantage was being exaggerated by the high prices being paid for Australian cattle.
“The Australian Government has benefitted from the hard work of exporters to make ESCAS work. Now they need to step up and address the fact that Australia’s regulatory costs are a godsend for our competitors who don’t have the same commitment to animal welfare as Australia,” she said.
“Competition from Brazil with live cattle and India with cheap buffalo meat are a real threat to our cattle markets in South East Asia and not just because of their disease threat. It is time for the Australian Government to play a greater leadership role internationally to drive more exporting nations to adopt the same industry animal welfare through chain assurance systems and protocols as Australia.
“It is simply the right and fair thing to do.”
Ms Penfold also flagged that exporters would have more to say on the matter in industry submissions to the Productivity Commission inquiry into the regulation of agriculture.
(For further information about MLA’s report, visit: http://www.mla.com.au/Prices-markets/)
Click here for PDF version of full media statement.
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