Article – Report values live ex industry

8 July 2014
The Land
THE absence of Australian livestock in overseas markets does not necessarily translate into increased meat imports from Australia, a landmark new report into the livestock export trade has found.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) report Live Export Trade Assessment released today provides the first full analysis of Australia’s livestock export trade.
It found that in 2013, the combined value of cattle (excluding breeder and dairy cattle), sheep and goat exports was $685.5 million.
ABARES latest forecast is for cattle and sheep exports to rise significantly in 2014–15 to $1 billion.
The report also found that a number of factors determine an importing country’s demand for live animals over meat, with those factors also influencing the likelihood of a country substituting Australian live animals with meat imports.
ABARES executive director Karen Schneider said ABARES found overseas markets didn’t necessarily replace live Australian animals with imported meat from Australia where Australian livestock was absent.
“Many other countries supply meat less expensively, and, in livestock Australia has many strong competitors in Africa and Europe,” Ms Schneider said.
In a statement, Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said the report dispels some of the myths and misinformation that are propagated about the trade.
“The report examined the reasons countries continue to demand live imports instead of boxed meat and found that while it’s often to do with cultural and religious reasons, it is also because of lack of refrigeration, unsuitability of land and climate for local production, support for a local meat processing industry, and lower tariffs or higher subsidies on live imports compared with imported meat,” he said.
“This study makes it clear that if we pull back on live exports it will not translate to increased meat imports from Australia – we have many strong competitors for live exports from Africa and Europe, and if countries demand boxed meat there are many cheaper suppliers of meat for them to choose from.
“We now have a comprehensive analysis of the drivers of this trade. So I encourage everyone, including animal rights organisations that have questioned the future of this trade, to read the report.
“The Coalition government believes the livestock trade is legitimate and we are committed to growing it because it provides protein to millions of people and underpins the viability of Australian producers.”
The report contains many figures and findings associated with Australia’s live export trade and its value to the economy.
Australia is the fifth-largest exporter of live cattle, the second-largest exporter of live sheep, and the 13th-largest exporter of live goats in the world.
Australia typically exports around 500,000 to 1 million head of cattle for feeder or slaughter purposes each year, which generally accounts for between 6 and 10 per cent of annual cattle turn-off. Not surprisingly, most are exported to South-East Asia, particularly Indonesia.
Around 2 to 3 million head of sheep are exported each year, predominantly to the Middle East.
The report found Australia’s live sheep exports have declined considerably since the 1980s, when annual exports frequently exceeded 6 million head each year.
Australia typically exports between 60,000 and 80,000 live goats, representing around 3 to 4pc of goat turn-off, with most destined for Malaysia.
The value of live cattle exports has ranged between $400m and $600m a year (in 2013 dollars) over the past 10 years.
Over the same period, the value of live sheep exports has ranged between $170m and $350m a year and for live goats between $8m and $14m.
Ms Schneider said in Australia, employment generated from the livestock export industries is estimated to be between 8000 and 10,000 people, including employment opportunities for indigenous people in the northern Australian live export region.
According to the ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey (AAGIS), of an estimated 1500 farm businesses identified as beef cattle specialists in the northern live cattle export region, around 180 derived more than half their receipts from live exports in the three years ending 2012–13.
Those most reliant on the live export trade were located in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of Western Australia and the upper western portion of the Northern Territory.
For farms selling sheep, live exports accounted for a larger share of sheep and lamb receipts in Western Australia (48pc) than in the other states (around 30pc).
Courtesy of The Land