Industry update: live sheep export #2

Page last updated: Thursday, 2 August 2018 - 12:47pm

In the latest development, the Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) has suspended the live export licence of EMS.  This is in addition to the suspension of Emanuel Exports’ licence last month and the decision of other exporters to halt shipments during the northern summer.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) is working closely with the Western Australian industry to manage the immediate impacts of this situation and support the development of future options.

Sheep held at export feedlot

DPIRD has been liaising with DAWR regarding the health of approximately 55,000 sheep which remain in the registered feedlot at Baldivis.  The sheep have been inspected by DAWR veterinarians and reported to be in good health. A DPIRD veterinarian and inspector also visited the feedlot premises last weekend and visually inspected the sheep. The sheep were generally found to be in good condition and there were no animal welfare issues of note. The department aims to revisit the premises as required.

These sheep can only be moved for the purpose of export, slaughter or to another registered feedlot, or under permit of a DPIRD inspector. Returning these animals to farms would present an unacceptable biosecurity risk. 

Support for industry

DPIRD Director General Ralph Addis and members of the department’s livestock team are staying in close contact with peak industry bodies, businesses and producers to provide regular updates and gather feedback about impacts of the suspension.

Producer meeting with Minister and DAWR

At a recent meeting with Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan and DAWR’s Darryl Quinlivan, producer representatives were briefed on the export licence suspension and steps to find viable short and medium term solutions, including industry’s role in creating a sustainable industry with good animal welfare outcomes.

The WA Government has indicated support for the live export industry where live export is well regulated, meets animal welfare standards and avoids the high risk northern summer. There is an urgent need for Government and industry to plan for and address the anticipated impacts to support the WA sheep industry.

Outcomes of the meeting and key areas of focus include:

  • ensuring compliance with new regulations;
  • planning and preparation for a potential pause over the northern summer;
  • developing feedback loops around performance and welfare between purchaser, exporter and producers;
  • understanding the likely flock structure changes and turnoff scenarios to provide financial information to industry;
  • communicating price signals to producers to plan for production, backgrounding and feedlotting.

Sheep Industry working group

DPIRD is in the process of bringing together a dedicated sheep industry working group, with clear Terms of Reference, to focus on next steps for the WA sheep industry. This industry-led group will inform the department about industry impacts and activity, and provide leadership on the development of future options for the sector.  An Expression of Interest will be extended via the next industry update to participate in the working group and take a leadership role in the future of the industry.   

Economic modelling

DPIRD has commissioned modelling to determine the profitability of alternate management and turnoff for ‘shippers’. This includes the relative profitability of retaining wethers for five years for wool production and the production of Merinos for the light weight lamb trade. The outcome of these options will inform further modelling at a state flock level to determine the impact on prime lamb turnoff, wool production and the WA flock composition.  

Seasonal update

DPIRD’s seasonal response group is monitoring the impact of the season to inform producers. A Season 2018 webpage has a range of technical information including feed budgeting, condition scoring, climate and weather forecasts. Free food on offer (FOO) maps, are updated weekly. There are also links to the CBH Feed Register and health and wellbeing websites.