Transport feels the pinch from declining livestock numbers

Transport operators are feeling the pinch from a decline in livestock numbers, industry group ALTA says

By Ruza Zivkusic | April 20, 2011

Transport operators are feeling the pinch from a significant decline in livestock numbers, the Australian Livestock Transporters Association (ALTA) says.

With sheep numbers being at their lowest since 1905, the livestock transport industry is feeling the pinch, Australian Livestock Transporters Association (ALTA) Executive Director Philip Halton says.

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows meat cattle numbers fell to 24 million in 2009 and dairy cattle numbers have continued to decline since industry deregulation, falling to 2.5 million.

Sheep numbers are at their lowest since 1905, but pig numbers have remained steady at decade-low levels.

"In the livestock sector most livestock companies are small family-owned businesses so this is a very immediate impact on their income and the fact that things are so tough is one of the reasons why the livestock sector has been so concerned about A-trailer charges," ALTA Executive Director Philip Halton says.

He says farmers in the east suffering from reduced herds are turning to the west to replenish livestock levels.

"In some cases it’s been triggering the large movements across the country but it’s part of the fact that the overall amount of work has been suppressed for a couple of years," Halton says.

However, there are some positive signs for the livestock sector. Halton says roads badly flooded earlier this year are being repaired, allowing farmers to bring their livestock to market.

"There’s quite a bit of movement of animals coming out of Queensland now where for a while it was very difficult for them to move. Some parts of the country that have been blocked are reconnecting to the market," he says.

Meanwhile, ABS figures show the production of wheat is up by 2 percent, while rice production has fallen to historically low levels.

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