The lucrative trade of exporting live dairy heifers to China continues to be on hold for some farmers despite authorities declaring northern Victoria free of bluetongue disease.
By: Warwick Long
Source: ABC Rural
Agents say hundreds of cattle have been rejected from export to China, costing the industry hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Bluetongue is an endemic disease to northern Australia but is not found in southern regions.
Countries like China do not accept live animals from bluetongue zones unless animals are for immediate slaughter when they arrive in the country.
Bluetongue was discovered in northern Victoria when on October 14, 2017, authorities declared a bluetongue zone.
Upon the declaration, all cattle within 100 kilometres of Lockington in northern Victoria where immediately banned from export.
However, after extensive testing by Victorian Government, veterinarians and staff from Agriculture Victoria tested more than 2,500 animals for the disease which resulted in the lifting of the bluetongue zone on December 6.
Even though governments have declared Victoria bluetongue-free, Chinese authorities have not.
The continuing ban on animals from the now-former bluetongue zone has surprised farmers and agents from the region.
ABC Rural has learned that a number of agents had already organised dairy heifers and other beef cattle destined for boats soon to leave for China.
One company alone was expecting to send at least 200 cattle to China and is now scrambling to find a solution.
Agriculture Victoria has referred media enquiries to the Federal Government.
The Federal Department of Agriculture said in a statement it is trying to resolve the situation,
“Australia continues to work closely with all importing countries, including China, to ensure importing country requirements are met for every commodity,” the statement said.
“Negotiations are underway with China for live export of cattle located within the boundaries of the former bluetongue exclusion zone.”