NORTH Queensland livestock agent Tim McHugh, Hogan & McHugh, Townsville, believes animal rights campaigners should consider the animal welfare implications of shutting down live-export markets.
The future of live cattle exports came under renewed scrutiny this week, following animal cruelty complaints that surfaced in Vietnam.
Mr McHugh is a major player in the live export trade and said any loss of orders, particularly during the third year of drought in northern Australia, would have a devastating impact on producers trying to offload stock.
"Every cattleman in Australia, from Cape York to Tasmania, is today benefitting from the live export market," Mr McHugh said.
"The Vietnam market is very important as the market specifications are much wider than Indonesia, and they will accept lighter cattle to fit into our seasonal conditions.
"The Vietnam parameters are much more flexible to our markets, and currently heavy slaughter steers are sitting on 235c/kg, while lighter feed-on steers are 225c/kg delivered Charters Towers.
So far there have been 70,000 cattle loaded onto export boats bound for Vietnam from the Port of Townsville alone this year, with orders waiting to load.
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NORTHERN Territory Cattlemen's Association chief executive officer Tracey Hayes said the live export industry did not accept bad practice and expected regulations to be enforced.
"We send a strong signal that breaches won't be tolerated in the live export industry," she said.
"There were serious breaches in the Export Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) identified in March, and these were self-reported - with decisive action taken.
"Animal welfare is taken very seriously, and ESCAS provides a supply chain system that enables systems to be identified and remediated.
"We support the Department of Agriculture to use its powers to rectify these breaches and do not support closing the trade, and we continue to work to improve animal welfare in our destination markets."