Export markets build drought resilience

Filed under Agriculture, News ~ by Press on  9 May 2019

Resilient beef and sheep prices have provided a dose of relief for many farming enterprises amidst a severe drought across most of Eastern Australia.

NSW Farmers President and Guyra farmer James Jackson said most droughts have traditionally been accompanied by a drastic fall in farm gate prices for grazing operations.

The strong livestock prices through this drought have not come about by chance, they have been built through the tireless work of the Australian livestock industry, with government support, to build our export markets for both live animals and processed meat,” Mr Jackson said.

The ability of drought affected farmers to realize strong prices for their stock over recent dry years is directly attributable to Australia’s strong export links, including our live export trade.”

Without export options, such as live export, Australian sheep markets would risk a domestic glut, further adding to the financial woes of farmers struggling in drought” he said.

One of the best ways to build resilience to drought is through accessing lucrative markets and building financial reserves in more favorable times. In this context, Federal Labor’s intent to ban the live export of sheep is a direct threat to the future resilience and sustainability of many Australian livestock enterprises.”

This could be made worse as a consequence of Federal Labor’s plans to break open existing Free Trade Agreements at their 10 year mark, and impose onerous new provisions which may jeopardise future FTAs.

Mr Jackson said the last eight live export voyages of sheep to the Middle East, between November 2018 and April 2019 have recorded mortality rates of well under 0.5%.

These low mortality rates demonstrate the trade’s commitment to animal welfare and the success of recent reforms.”

This drought has reinforced the critical role that strong export markets play in underpinning farm and industry resilience. Let’s hope Federal Labor, if elected on 18 May, heed these lessons and re-think their plans to shut down live sheep exports or unreasonably tamper with current or future FTAs.”

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