Cattle ban hits WA farmers
Ban: WA cattle exports to Egypt stopped. Picture: Supplied

WA cattle producers face almost the entire hit from the suspension at the weekend of Australia's $24 million live cattle trade with Egypt.

Trade was stopped after horrific Animals Australia footage revealed WA cattle being brutalised in an approved Egyptian abattoir.

The industry-led halt hurts Kimberley and Pilbara producers harder than others, with figures showing the only cattle shipments to Egypt last year came from WA.

Cattle exports to Egypt make up about 14 per cent of the State's 225,000-head live cattle trade and 5 per cent of the Australian market.

The fallout also dashes hopes local sheep producers had to secure new trade with Egypt. It is also almost two years since live cattle exports to Indonesia were suspended.

Animals Australia said its investigators went to Egypt last month and all footage was handed to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry when they returned.

Two videos, one believed to have been shot in October and the other last month, are being examined. Among other alleged atrocities, they reportedly show the cruel emergency slaughter of an injured animal.

Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said the department began an inquiry late last week and the Egyptian market would be suspended until the highest level of animal welfare could be assured.

Australian Ambassador Ralph King met Egypt's veterinarian service chief responsible for the abattoirs on Thursday to discuss the footage.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA president Rob Gillam said the suspension so close to the start of the export season was unfortunate and would badly affect northern cattle producers.

Two WA-based export ships left Fremantle for Egypt last June and July - the MS Nada and MS Ghena - with more than 32,000 cattle.

Australian Livestock Exporters Council chief executive Alison Penfold, who called the suspension, said the industry was co-operating with the investigation. She hoped to find an alternative within days.

Ms Penfold said the footage, which has not been made public, was "shocking and sickening".

"We are all horrified with what's occurred," she said. "While such cases are very few and the vast portion of live exports achieve high standards, such unconscionable cruelty cannot be tolerated.

"We were working with government to put in place new arrangements to allow the export of sheep to Egypt but clearly that too will not proceed until we have those assurances around animal welfare."

WA Agriculture Minister Ken Baston said continuing engagement with nations such as Indonesia and Egypt was key to long-term animal welfare. He urged producers not to quit the industry.

The West Australian

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