Cattle Export On its way out?
Dr Ross Ainsworth in Beef Central reported that there has been a relatively sudden slow-down in the trade and that the beef live ex trade is likely to continue to contract in the near future. As of October 2021, of the 16 cattle vessels normally operating from Australia to Asia, he reports only 7 are continuing to service the S E Asian trade.
Of all of the factors contributing to this dramatic slowdown in the trade, high cattle prices are the primary cause. Dr Ainsworth suggested it may even take 18 months for prices to moderate to a level at which our customers are able to restart profitable importation. He suggested that "the industry has no option but to batten down the hatches and sail into the unavoidable commercial storm and hope that they emerge from the other side in good order."
VALE hopes they never emerge from the other side and that this is the time that serious and considered long term plans should be built for a live-export free future - more certainty for farmers and definitely more certainty for the welfare of their stock!
When Gulf Livestock 1 went down in Sept 2020, VALE had just spent 6 months preparing a draft scientific paper on cattle export to China. The paper was put on hold and the information was recompiled into a detailed report supplied to the New Zealand Government. An updated document was also compiled and supplied to the Australian Government on request.
All this diverted from the aim - but finally it is published as an open access article in the prestigious journal Animals: https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11102862 The source data were the patchy, incomplete and highly sanitised Independent Observer Summaries published by the Australian Government (coupled with a few high mortality investigation reports). This analysis only provides a "thin edge of the wedge" snapshot of this little known section of the Australian live ex trade. Nonetheless, its a pretty shocking snapshot.
Note: VALE wishes to thank RSPCA Australia for contributing the open-access fee for this journal.