IN THE NEWS: On FEB 6, 2018
The suspension of live cattle exports from Brazil has been short-lived, with the Federal Justice of Sao Paulo overturning an injunction made just a few days ago.
On Friday a court placed an injunction on a shipment of 27,000 head of cattle due to leave for Turkey aboard the ship Nada.
That judge also placed a ban on live export from the country "to prevent the export for slaughter of live animals, from throughout the national territory, until the destination country adopts slaughter practices in line with those of the Brazilian legal system".
On Sunday part of that decision was reversed, but the broader ban on live export remained in place until today's ruling.
In a statement, Brazil's Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said the suspension had been lifted, which "allowed the export of any shipment of live cattle in the country's ports".
He said the court found that all of the government's export permits "fully complied with the laws".
"Victory for Brazilian farming. Exports freed," he said.
Animals Australia, which conducted an investigation into Brazilian cattle exports to Egypt last year, expressed disappointed in the decision.
"Just hours ago, the injunction halting live export from Brazil was lifted," it wrote on its website.
"This is not surprising considering the exporters have powerful political allies and they were always going to fight tooth and nail to keep their trade.
"But with the historic Federal Court case examining the 'merits' of Brazil's live export trade still pending, our fight to spare animals from the misery of live export continues."
Complex legal issues involved
During the suspension, a ship carrying 25,000 cattle was allowed to leave Brazil, but the country's live export future was in limbo after the initial court decision.
The case involving complex legal wrangling and multiple court challenges began with a legal challenge by the National Forum for the Defense and the Protection of Animals.
With animals already loaded on the ship for live export to Turkey, another judge ruled that the ship, which was the catalyst for the case, could sail to its destination.
Now sailing to Turkey are 25,000 head of cattle already loaded on the Nada, with 2,000 head of cattle — that were not already loaded — remaining in Brazil.
In her decision in the original case, Judge Diva Prestes Marcondes Malerbi said leaving the animals in port "will cause more suffering and painful wear to the animals than the travel".
Minimal impact on Australia
Simon Quilty, a beef industry analyst, believed the short-lived live export ban would have minimal impact on Australia.
"I think the bigger ramifications is the message that this gives to animal rights activists, in the belief this could give them some real impetus to carry a suspension into other countries believing live animal exports are a risk to animals," he said.
"Personally I don't think it will carry too much weight here in Australia, given all the dramas we had back in 2011."
In 2011 the Federal Government controversially placed a ban on live exports from Australia that lasted for one month.
That decision was widely condemned by the beef industry and regional Australia for damaging the economy and livelihoods of large areas of northern Australia reliant on the trade.
"I think governments here are very wary of revisiting that situation again," Mr Quilty said.
Live export is a much smaller industry in Brazil compared to Australia.
For 2018, the United States Department of Agriculture estimated 430,000 head of cattle would travel overseas compared to 38 million which will be slaughtered within Brazil this year.
Mr Quilty said that Australia and Brazil only compete with each other in two markets — Turkey and Israel — so the decision is unlikely to alter world beef prices and will have minimal impact for Australian farmers.
Live exporter Wellard, which operated in Brazil, has announced that it is monitoring the situation but, "currently does not have any cattle contracted or purchased in Brazil" for live export.
"We are hopeful this current issue will be resolved in the short term so Brazil can begin exporting cattle again," operations executive director Fred Troncone said.
"It is important to note Wellard operates in multiple counties so expects it would be able to mitigate the effect of a protracted suspension in Brazil should it occur.
"Wellard will talk to its clients regarding the sourcing of cattle from alternative supplier countries should it become necessary to make up any shortfall from Brazil."