Live beef and sheep exports – enough is enough


Let’s face it, shipping live animals in cramped pens for long distances across tropical seas is inherently cruel. And a good number of these beasts then face further suffering on arrival.

Around 50% of Australia’s sheep and 7% of its beef are exported live. This is a clear failure of our agriculture and industry policy, and it’s heartening to see the number of farmers now joining the swelling ranks of activists for export bans on live shipments.

You must have sympathy for Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig, who brought in a temporary export ban but was soon overruled because of the huge political storm it created.

The reason of course is the fact that live exports have been the lifeline of the northern beef farmers and many sheep farmers through some very difficult times, and they simply will not countenance unions or anyone else threatening their commercial lifeline into Asia. As a result, it’s one of the most political of all industries and very resistant to change – the key reason for our inability to turn beef and sheep commodities into high-value foods.

So we’ve been kicking around some ideas here in Canberra about an Action Plan to value add beef and sheep through greater local processing. We figure it is both commonsense and totally consistent with the values of a Labor Government. Accordingly, we are proposing to build a collaborative joint venture ‘model’ for Minister Ludwig’s consideration.

I can’t go into detail here but it would basically apply this model to certain abattoirs in Australia. They would need to have progressive management that is amenable to working with unions, farmers and extension agencies to significantly lower costs at critical points along the supply chain. We figure that co-investment with enlightened foreign investors would also be smart in order to address some of the overseas market constraints. This is not rocket science – a group of us here in Canberra worked on the Button industry plans for steel, passenger motor vehicles, building and construction and textiles, footwear and clothing. The issues are not that different.

If your council is interested in being involved, please contact me ASAP.

This article appears in the December 2012 issue of LG Focus

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: