Government report exposes live export industry spin

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 8 July 2014

When the Department of Agriculture commissioned a report to highlight the significance of the live export trade, the Minister might not have expected the facts to reveal that in the scheme of things …

… live export isn’t really all that significant.

The ‘Live export trade assessment’ report by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource
Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has confirmed what we already knew.

  • Live export is a small industry – worth just
    $533 million in 2012/2013, one twelfth of Australia’s boxed meat exports. Even when live export for breeding purposes is included, that figure is still only one eighth.
  • Most Australian farmers don’t live
    export.

    • Just 7% of ALL farms in Australia with more than 100 sheep
      sell to the live export trade (and this has declined in recent
      years).
    • Just 6% of cattle raised for slaughter in Australia are
      sold into the live export trade.
  • Most of those farmers who do live export, do not rely on it.
    • In fact even in WA where only 38% of farms with sheep
      sell to live export, most of their income (93%) is derived from other
      things (like crops and wool).
    • And even in the north of Australia where the industry has
      long claimed the sky would fall in without the trade, most cattle
      producers don’t rely heavily on live export at all. Just 12% of farm
      businesses (180 out of 1,500 enterprises) derive 50% or more of their
      income from sending their cattle overseas live.

Importantly, as many agricultural economists have stated before now,
there are viable (and indeed preferable) alternatives for those
producers currently involved in the live export trade.

The government-commissioned report also dispelled the industry myth that live animal exports cannot be substituted with boxed meat exports, stating that in the Middle East, Egypt and South East Asia, there is an increased willingness to import Australian meat when live animals are not available. In fact, while live sheep imports into the Middle East have declined over the past two decades, sheep meat imports have grown 150%.

The Minister for Agriculture has tried to put his own spin on this
report but the facts speak for themselves. Live export isn’t only ethically unjustifiable but the numbers just don’t stack up either.

Read more about the true value of live export: