Australia's Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) just granted three local firms to export 190,000 sheep and 400 cattle indicating the resumption of the country's live export to the Middle East despite the unresolved problem over 21,000 Aussie sheep in Pakistan.
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Due to the legal problems caused by initial findings of Karachi authorities that the sheep have salmonella bacteria and actinomyces, the DAFF suspended the grant of export permits last week affecting all Australian livestock producers.
The department gave additional health and welfare requirements on the exporters in exchange for the grant of the export permit. It also required the exporters to have contingency plans once the shipment is delayed or refused entry and to bring with it extra feed and water.
One of the exporters granted the permit is Wellard, based in Fremantle, which was also the exporter of the 21,000 sheep which was initially rejected by Bahrain but accepted by Pakistan. Mauro Balzarini, exports managing director of Wellard, said the company would follow with the new conditions set by the department.
He said the department will also perform extra checks on the animals as part of its risk management measures which Wellard said it could comply with.
The Western Australia Livestock Exports Association (WALEA), which accounts for 75 per cent of live sheep exports of Australia, welcomed the grant again of export permits.
"We just need to get the business up and running again, and get trade moving because we have a backlog of animals out there that are ready for shipment and that is what the industry needs to concentrate on now," WALEA Chairman John Edwards was quoted by ABC.
Ron Cullen, chief executive of the Sheepmeat Council of Australia, also welcomed the resumption of exports after the Pakistan problem damaged the industry's reputation and caused a slump in prices of the commodity.
Reports from Pakistan remain sketchy regarding the status of the 21,000 sheep. One report from Brisbane Times said up to 7,000 of the animals have already been culled despite a court injunction secured by the PK Livestock, the Pakistani importer of the sheep.
Steve Meerwald, executive director of Wellard, flew to Karachi to help seek the overturn of the cull order permanently and resume normal processing by PK which has a modern, accredited and World Animal Health Organisation-compliant slaughterhouse.
The International News reported that the Sindh High Court suspended on Monday the culling of the Australian sheep until Sept 27. At the same time, the court ordered the Livestock Department and other Pakistani authorities to initiate measures to prevent the outbreak of any new infection or spread of the disease.
Justice Maqbool Baqar who headed the high court division that handled the court injunction, issued the suspension order after it received two provisional reports submitted by five health experts that did not find clinical signs of the anthrax disease on the imported sheep.
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