lifted@ (Adds Agriculture Ministry statement)
SAO PAULO, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Brazil's Agriculture Ministry on Monday defended the export of live cattle on long sea journeys, after a court temporarily lifted an injunction that had been put in place at the behest of an animal rights' group.
The injunction to halt the export of all live animals from Brazil was granted by a lower court in Sao Paulo on Friday on behalf of an animal rights group known as Fórum Nacional de Proteção e Defesa Animal, which had argued that long-distance shipping amounts to animal cruelty, according to the court ruling.
However, a federal court ruled on Sunday that the injunction should be lifted for a shipment of around 25,000 cattle from the port of Santos.
The broader ban was left in place and it was unclear how further shipments may be affected.
The ministry said in a statement on Monday that Brazil's norms for exporting live animals aligned with rules of the World Organization for Animal Health.
Total meat exports from Brazil are worth some $14 billion annually, according to government data. Live cattle exports had grown to be worth more than $1.5 billion, the ministry said in its statement, without giving a timeframe for that figure.
Sunday's shipment had left port and was headed to Turkey, according to a spokesman for Minerva SA, the Brazilian meatpacker that sold the animals to an unnamed client in that country. The journey generally takes 16 days.
Originally 27,000 head were supposed to be shipped on Feb. 1, but the delay led to some being left behind, the Minerva spokesman said. (Reporting by José Roberto Gomes and Ana Mano; Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Rosalba O'Brien)