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Livestock export suspension ‘crippling’

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Livestock exporters fear farmers will lose valuable income while an independent inquiry into shipments is carried out.
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Brent Wallace | September 22, 2020 from GlobalHQ on Vimeo.

MPI imposed the temporary suspension following the maritime tragedy of the Gulf Livestock 1 off the coast of Japan earlier this month.

“This is one time when (the) Government needs to suck it up, give some dispensation and let everyone at least get the immediate crisis sorted,” live export consultant Brent Wallace said.

“The cost factor of cattle sitting around is not sustainable for anyone involved, and not for the Chinese either where these cattle are going.

“China has been very good to the (New Zealand) agricultural industry over many years, going forward if they can’t get cattle from us (NZ) in the short-term, they will go somewhere else,” Wallace said.

“I have just had to tell our farmers to carry on without us, we had a ship booked for September 28, that’s now been diverted to Brisbane to offload crew, including some Kiwis.

“Waiting for a government decision is crippling.”

Federated Farmers dairy chair Wayne Langford says the uncertainty is concerning.

“Yes, it’s important we get a real sturdy inquiry into this maritime tragedy, but farmers don’t have all the time in the world to wait on a decision.

“These export dollars are a significant part of hundreds of farming businesses and we need some certainty very quickly for farmers’ own management,” Langford said.

Interim spokesperson for 600 farmers and farming related entities (FAFRE), Hawke’s Bay-based Doran Livestock director Wayne Doran says MPI’s response to date to the tragedy leaves far more questions than answers.

He says many of the farmers who have animals in quarantine have received notification that the exporter is no longer able to pay for the animals.

“The situation for them is dire, both financially and mentally,” Doran said.

FAFRE believes MPI is not acting lawfully, especially given the circumstances surrounding its certification that allowed the Gulf Livestock 1 voyage to sail.

Doran says FAFRE is seeking legal advice as it considers appointing a litigator.

MPI deputy director-general of agriculture and investment service Karen Adair says as the agency that issues Animal Welfare Export Certificates for shipments, it needs to do all it can to ensure people and animals on livestock export boats are safe. 

“It is entirely appropriate, the review is fully independent and transparent and provides an opportunity for various parties to contribute in an open way, including exporters,” Adair said.

The review is expected to take about a month.

Adair says there will be no livestock exports by sea until the review has been completed and considered.

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