Cattle trade curbs: Commerce Ministry looking at meat, leather exporters’ concerns

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on January 12, 2018

To use 4-week reprieve by Madras High Court for analysis, action

The Madras High Court’s four-week stay on the ban on cattle trading for slaughter in organised markets has given some breathing space to the Commerce Ministry to examine the complaints received from exporters of meat and leather and decide on the course of action.

“Because of the stay order, exports of meat and leather are not going to be immediately affected. We have received representations from exporters, including a detailed one from the All India Meat and Livestock Exporters Association (AIMLEA), and will closely examine all concerns raised. Whether we need to take up the matter with the Environment Ministry or higher offices would be decided thereafter,” a Commerce Ministry official told BusinessLine.

Buffalo meat exports have declined in 2016-17 for the second consecutive year and exporters fear that if the Environment Ministry’s orders are not revoked, things may worsen. Meat exports in 2016-17 slipped to $3.92 billion from $4.06 billion in the previous year and $4.78 billion in 2014-15.

Leather goods and footwear exports, too, declined marginally in 2016-17 to $1.37 billion and $2.14 billion, respectively.

“While the fall in exports of meat and leather is not unusual in the difficult global market, things are worse because of the growing sentiment against the industry in the country,” said a Tamil Nadu-based leather exporter.

Last week, the Environment Ministry notified the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017, banning trading in cattle (cows, bull, buffalo and camel) for slaughter at animal markets. In a meeting with senior officials from the Commerce Ministry earlier this week, a delegation from AIMLEA pointed out that if the ban on trading of buffaloes for slaughter in animal markets is not lifted, it would serve a big blow not just to meat exports but also leather.

“The delegation pointed out that it is not cost-effective for the industry to visit individual farmers to buy cattle for slaughter. It gave figures on the sourcing that is done from the cattle markets and the extent to which that may get hit resulting in lower exports of meat as well as leather. It said that farmers would get disincentivised to invest in cattle and milk production could also get hit,” the official said.

FIEO representation

The Federation of Indian Export Organisations, too, submitted a letter to the Commerce Ministry asking for intervention in case exports get hurt.

“It has to be ensured that raw material supply to the industry is not affected as they meat and leather contribute about $10 billion to our exports,”said Ajay Sahai, Director General, FIEO.

India’s competitors, especially in the area of meat exports, are watching the developments in the country carefully as continued ban could make the country slip from the top position that it shares with Brazil.

Beef market analysts have said in reports that the place vacated by India in the global market could be filled by Brazil while Australia could cater to demands that Brazil is not able to fulfil.

Published on June 01, 2017

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