OUTGOING LiveCorp chairman David Galvin has expressed an unusually blunt view of the challenging economic conditions faced by the nation’s live exports industry.
At the recent LIVEXchange 2017 conference in Perth, in his final address after nine years in the role, Mr Galvin said his sector was currently experiencing a “s**t” time financially, mostly due to high livestock prices.
He said exporters were confronted with “some of the most difficult economic conditions in the history of the industry”.
“As a result, last financial year, cattle exports declined 27 per cent to around 835,000 with a value of $1.1 billion,” he said.
“Sheep exports, thank God, stayed steady at 1,852,000 with a value of $243 million and most of that has been contributed by the industry here in Western Australia.
“Goat exporters went down 63pc in a year, their most dramatic decline, with only 29,000 exported at a value at $4.7m.”
Despite facing historically tough challenges, Mr Galvin said his industry had increased its contribution to the national economy.
He said live exports supported 10,000 jobs in regional and rural Australia, and contributed $1.4b to the Australian economy yearly.
“Enough of the doom and gloom,” he said.
Incoming LiveCorp chairman Terry Enright’s choice of language to describe the current fiscal shape of the live exports industry wasn’t as blunt as his predecessor’s.
But Mr Enright did concede there was escalating pressure on the sector, which would effect LiveCorp’s activities, given it relied on levies paid by exporters, for R&D projects.
“The industry is in a tough situation financially because of the price of livestock basically,” he said.
“There are financial pressures right across the industry so what we have to do as the R&D arm of the live export industry is to make sure we meet the objectives of our exporting members to ensure they achieve financial sustainability.
“It’s been a very tough financial environment and ironically its driven by very high prices of livestock which is welcomed by the production sector and people understand that.
“But it makes it very difficult to compete in some of our markets, particularly if you take into account the value of the Australian dollar on top of that.
“We’ve seen a real spike in prices over the past 12 to 18 months and a range of factors are driving that, like seasonal conditions in Australia and relative demand for livestock to the abattoirs here. Overall, we’re still exporting animals and our exporters are still achieving supply into those markets, albeit on a very difficult footing.”