Australian sheep issue adversely affecting livestock trade

The unresolved Australian sheep issue in Pakistan starts affecting the trade in livestock badly that the foreign country may not export sacrificial animal to Pakistan this year. On the other hand, Australia has restricted its exports of livestock to only small vessels and single destination instead of the lager vessel carrying huge number of animals for multiple destinations. 

An official at Quarantine department of the country informed Business Recorder that Australian sheep, which were imported for the first time in such a large number, had damaged the existing trade of livestock globally specially in Pakistan and Australia. 

The foreign country is unlikely to export sacrificial animals especially cows to Pakistan after the health issue related to imported sheep surfaced here this month. Pakistan has previously been importing some sacrificial animals from Australia during Eid-ul-Azha, he claimed, saying “no schedule of importing animals from the foreign country has received by Quarantine department of the Ministry of Food so far.” Though concerns were also being shown about imported animals from Australia by world importers including Saudi Arabia, which imports huge number of sacrificial animals during the religious festival, Australia, according to the official, has reportedly restricted its livestock exports. 

The foreign country may now allow only small vessels bound to single destination (country) to avoid the health related issues with the exporting animals. This move has come after the much debated issue related to infected Australian sheep imported to Pakistan after being rejected by Bahrain. 

Besides, according to sources, serious investigation into the case and debate on various forums were also going on in Australia, one of the largest exporters of livestock in the world. A serious question is also being raised over the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS), for which Pakistan was qualified overnight in order to make the sheep exported, after the brutal, what they say ‘inhuman’ ways of culling of infected animals in Pakistan. 

As ESCAS is an essential requirement that a country needs to have prior to Australia engaging in livestock export trade with it. According to the ESCAS, all livestock exports need to be treated in a humane manner before the Australian government can export to such a country. Outcry in Australian media: Agriculture Ministry in Australia is also now being asked to instigate a full, transparent and public inquiry into the latest livestock export debacle following reports of the brutal culling of Australian sheep in Pakistan. 

According to a report appeared in an Australian website, Senator Rhiannon was quoted saying “the cruelty involved in the slaughter of Australian sheep in Pakistan, and the mishandling of this sheep shipment from its inception, demands an urgent inquiry.” 

“The Australian government and the export company Wellard have lost total control over the supply chain and animals have suffered terribly as a result. The slaughter of Australian sheep in Pakistan might be occurring out of sight, out of mind but the problems remain.” 

Besides Senator Rhiannon was quoted saying “Clearly the government cannot manage the livestock export industry from a desk in Canberra and the only solution is a ban on livestock exports.” According to another report Lyn White, Director Animals Australia Campaign saying that “this is an absolute debacle. Pakistan was a fast-tracked ‘solution’ for an exporter desperate to avoid a disaster when this shipment of sheep was rejected by Bahrain.” 

That assisted the exporter, Wellard, to facilitate this ‘solution’ in Pakistan – knowing that Pakistan had no track record with importing Australian sheep – it makes this situation even more concerning. If reports coming from Pakistan are accurate, it is clear they are not complying with regulatory requirements. Lyn White, Director Animals Australia Campaign, said exporters needed to wake up to the fact that they could no longer hide their welfare disasters in other countries. “It is understandable that the Pakistani media raised questions as to why their country would import sheep that had been rejected by another for disease concerns. 

It is highly likely that ordering this cull is the government’s response to those fears – regardless of the real health status of these sheep. Aerial photos of the feedlot holding Australian sheep were featured online in the Pakistani media recently. “We were shocked that this holding facility was approved by the Australian government. These 21,000 sheep are crammed together so tightly in this feedlot that their ability to lie down, or access food and water is severely limited.” 

Copyright Business Recorder, 2012

Muhammad Ramzan Rafique
Muhammad Ramzan Rafique

I am from a small town Chichawatni, Sahiwal, Punjab , Pakistan, studied from University of Agriculture Faisalabad, on my mission to explore world I am in Denmark these days..

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