The Turnbull government has confirmed that the live sheep trade will continue into the Middle East with all 23 recommendations by the McCarthy review to be fully implemented. This, by no means, will give certainty that the trade will continue long-term and indications are that the public groundswell against the trade will continue to grow.
The next federal election could very well be the beginning of the end of the live trade. Labour Leader Shorten wants it shut down, Shadow Ag Minister Joel Fitzgibbon wants it phased out in five years, Senator Hinch and the Greens want it stopped immediately, and again, some conservative MPs are not supporting the Turnbull government’s position and looking for media opportunities to lift their own electoral profile (Susan Ley and others).
In addition to all the above, WA Ag Minister Alannah MacTiernan wants further restrictions that would be more of a hindrance than helpful to live exporters. MacTeirnan, more than anyone, should be supportive of the live trade as her state is the largest exporter of live sheep accounting for some 85 per cent of the trade.
Joel Fitzgibbon is a good bloke and suggested that we should expand our processing capacity and eventually eliminate live export. Will not work Joel! You just cannot go from ‘the boat to the box’ and expect to retain our importing customers that engage in the live trade. They will go somewhere else to secure live supplies.
The live export industry needs to get on the front foot and convince the public in urban areas the benefit of the trade and not only to regional and rural Australians, but to the countries we export to.
Eliminate the live trade for sheep and cattle in Australia and all you will do is put a ceiling on livestock prices nationally. No live export means lower farm gate prices.
There are big lessons for the cattle live export industry as Australia Meat Industry Council (AMIC) are proudly supporting processing in Australia and of course, they would, as live exporters are processors biggest competitors.
The Brown family from Lyndhurst Station Crow’s Nest target the Shepherdson and Boyd Toogoolawah weaner show and sale every year for their annual turn-off, and for very good reason. This year, for the second time, they won the double, securing both the champion pen of steers and the champion pen of heifers.
Russell Fogg and his good wife Julie manage the operation for the Brown family’s property holdings and take great pride with the livestock they are producing. Their F1 breeders with the full French Charolais bulls are producing repeated success with the steers this year returning an average of $1070 and the heifer equivalent $870.
Actually, Lyndhurst have won the champion pen of steers six or seven times (Russell has lost count). Lyndhurst also provided a pen of Hereford/Brahman cross weaners that attracted spirited competition from buyers as far afield as Victoria who attended the annual event.
Dick Boyd has been a director at Shepherdson and Boyd in the valley for over 50 years, a milestone achieved last year with some quite enthusiastic celebrations. “When we commenced here, we sold a lot of bullocks, then someone decided to build the Wivenhoe Dam and flooded the best country so we had to change plans and concentrated on providing special weaner sale opportunities for our clients,” he said.
Well Dick, everyone is happy, you are still getting the cattle, and we are “well-watered” in Brisbane.
The markets this week appear that they may have found a ‘base’, with most classes firm for the last week and an improvement in prime cow prices. While this week the number of livestock on feed reached over 1 million units that will hit the markets from July on, one does get the feeling that there will be a shortage of grass cattle come August and that securing lines of CFA cows with cover will be difficult for processors to find in eastern states.