Sheep exports to Iran reopened

28 May, 2014 03:45 PM
It will mean more pressure on sheep prices upwardly ... it's very welcome news

THE live sheep trade between Australia and Iran has been reopened, thanks to the development of new animal health protocols between the two countries.

Livestock trade to Iran was suspended decades ago, around the time of the Iranian revolution in 1979.

Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC) CEO Alison Penfold and Sheepmeat Council of Australia CEO Kathleen Ferme welcomed the news as a major win for producers "a long time in the making".

According to industry figures, in the late 1960s to early 1970s Iran was the largest importer of Australian sheep, taking more than 3 million head.

Ms Penfold said industry sees strong potential for the Iran market to reach back around 1 million head of sheep a year.

“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,” Agriculture Minister Barnaby 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."

Mr Joyce said he was confident the trade would sit "safely" within existing sanctions.

Exports to Iran will be subject to the same animal welfare standards as all other markets. ESCAS is set to be reviewed with a report due in July, according to recommendations stemming from Bill Farmer’s extensive 2011 report into the live export industry.

"(This news) will mean more pressure on sheep prices upwardly," said Western Australia Farmers Federation president Dale Park. "It's very welcome news."

Mr Park said sheep numbers had almost halved in the past 20 years, and he hoped this news would be a boost to encourage producers back, especially in WA.

Ms Ferme said sheep producers had "done it tough" in the last couple of years, particularly in the west.

“The opening of new markets provides great opportunity for producers and potentially increased returns to the farmgate," she said.

“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.

Independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie called the decision "a remarkable failure of governance".

“The sorts of countries to which we are resuming the trade are especially notorious, a sure sign that this government is entirely captive to a relatively small but politically powerful industry group,” Mr Wilkie said.

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon used the announcement to reiterate her party's stance on ending live export in favour of boxed meat trade.

“Expanding the live export trade into Iran is not about assisting farmers and rural communities," she said.

“Minister Joyce is putting his sectional interests before the economic health of regional and rural Australia. A responsible government would be working with farmers to expand the processed meat trade.

"This is how farmers can have certainty that there is a future for their farms and we can build long term jobs for regional communities."

Both the RSPCA and Animals Australia have slammed the reopening of the live export trade with Iran, branding the move as "irresponsible".

In a statement, the RSPCA said if the government is 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 best welfare outcome for Australian animals is for them to be slaughtered here to Australian standards," the statement said.

"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."

Reports in February that Iran was “on the brink” of being re-opened to the live sheep trade were a little premature, industry representatives said at the time.

Mr Joyce travelled to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in April as part of a concerted push to re-establish dormant agricultural markets for Australia.

The Australian live trade to Bahrain - suspended since August 2012 - also recommenced recently after industry lifted a voluntary suspension early in March.

Livestock carrier MV Al-Shuwaikh left Fremantle for Bahrain on March 31, marking Western Australia's resumption of live exports to that market after an eight-year hiatus. The second Australian shipment of sheep to Bahrain is due to arrive there this weekend.

The live sheep trade to Bahrain was suspended in August 2012, after Bahrain rejected a load of 22,000 Australian sheep due to concerns about scabby mouth.

Date: Newest first | Oldest first


good on u
29/05/2014 12:15:59 AM

finally a minister who actually cares about the ag industry, love your work Barnaby
29/05/2014 8:07:05 AM

If Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon wants to end live export in favour of processing stock in AU she will have to find a way to cut the processing costs to about half what they are now i.e. cutting wages. How stupid to think people in third world countries can afford to pay $30kg for steak or $40kg for mutton because they will pay more than we do for meat. Get you head out of the sand Lee not every one in AU or the rest of the world has your income.
Deal is another welfare disaster
29/05/2014 11:31:18 AM

Inverell: People in third world countries dont buy steak. They buy the cheapest meat they can get which is why AU sends live animals to these most awful of nations because they are not discerning. Australia doesnt have quality otherwise it would focus on Europe for chilled but instead likes live because for the majority of you who are involved, you have to have a market that doesnt care about quality
30/05/2014 8:51:40 AM

The cruel and greedy continue to support overseas animal abuse.
30/05/2014 9:24:34 AM

DIAWD, as I said third world countries cannot afford to purchase our terrific meat processed in AU. What you have written doesn't make sense. You believe people in third world countries don't deserve to be able to purchase cheaper meat processed in their own countries. What a joke to say our live export customers don't care about the quality of their meat. It is clear you have no understanding of this issue at all. They do actually eat all of the beast being processed in their country and they do care about quality, just like any other consumer.
Cattle Advocate
4/06/2014 9:22:07 AM

World LE is 70M pa and growing and Aus leads AW. If RSPCA.BLE how would it guarantee farmers LE parity pricing when LE cattle can be $2.30/kg, Aus Dairy still hobbled by $1/lt milk can LE in competition with NZ that has just signed a LE agreement with Suadi Arabia and is using LE to help drive the NZ economy? RSPCA's BLE report ''The costs of adjustment are highly sensitive to the time of the cessation of the trade'' In some parts of the ME workers found with any traces of dirt under their finger nails are reprimanded.


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