The live export trade is not only hurting the sheep and cattle being sent overseas for slaughter, but the current regulations are its affecting their Australian farmers too.
Since the exposure of cruelty to animals in overseas abattoirs was exposed in a graffic video in 2011, animal welfare group “Animal’s Australia” started the movement to ban live export of livestock to Indonesia in order for the animals to be processed in a humane environment. The explicit images that were shown on ABC’s Lateline program both shocked and offended viewers when it was aired and was just the tip of the iceberg in a hefty debate involving both the welfare of the animals and the welfare of their farmers and the meat market in Australia.
In a recent interview (10th October) on ABC radio’s program PM with Western Australian farmer Digby Stretch, he described the hardships faced by his family, who runs a grazier farm with 10,000 head of sheep in southern WA. There has been a shocking loss in profits due to the strict live export market conditions and according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, “during the June quarter, sheep exports were at their fifth lowest level in 25 years.” The restrictions involved exporting livestock from Australia have left farmers being unable to gain access to the sheep and cattle markets in the Middle East and Indonesia, because of the standards and regulations that have been implemented by the ESCAS (Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System) which at this present time, will not allow for Australian farmers to sell livestock to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern Countries. The president of the WA Pastoralists and Graziers Association said that, in response to the importance of the livestock’s welfare:
“Well, the fact of the matter is that in many cases it really hasn’t got much to do with the welfare now. Saudi Arabia’s a very good market to look at. The fact is the Saudis do have their own animal welfare concerns. They may have some different ideas to the way we do it, but quite simply, ESCAS does not allow us to supply livestock into Saudi Arabia at this time.”
Since the footage of cattle and sheep being brutally slaughtered and abused in overseas abattoirs surfaced in the media, It has become apparent that the welfare of the livestock is becoming disregarded by the meat industry in Australia, and the focus has been shifted instead, to the farmers struggling to make a profit.