Structure of the Industry

KEY PLAYERS IN THE LIVE ANIMAL TRADE

The major players in the live animal export trade vary considerably in their interest and roles. Some are, for example like AMSA, (Australian Marine Safety Authority), only interested in ensuring that the Navigation Act 1912, Marine Orders Part 43 are followed, however, most of the other industry organisations have a vested interest in the outcomes of live animal exports including Liveship, which represents the interests of the livestock carriers (i.e. shipowners).

Below is an excerpt taken from the Keniry report which explains how the live animal export trade operates. For anyone not sure how the trade works and would like to know more, or indeed for anyone who is not aware of who is responsible for which area of the trade this information is for you.

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7 Structure of the industry

The current structure of the red meat industry (primarily cattle, sheep and goats), of which the livestock export industry is a part, was introduced in 1998 by the red meat and livestock industry reforms. These were designed to give greater responsibility to the industry itself and to minimise the involvement of government in its activities. Concepts of self-determination and self-regulation underpinned the reforms, which at the same time sought to ensure appropriate representation, governance and accountability for its activities through the new industry structures.

The key elements of these reforms were the establishment of the Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) and a new producer-owned service delivery company, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

The RMAC was established as an industry forum of six peak industry councils: Cattle Council of Australia, Sheepmeat Council of Australia, Australian Lot Feeders' Association, Australian Livestock Exporters' Council, Australian Meat Council and the National Meat Association of Australia. Its role was to advise the Government on whole-of-industry matters, including industry multi-sector policy and strategic matters. The Goat Industry Council of Australia maintains a link with RMAC, but is not a member.

MLA was established as the marketing and research provider company for the red meat industry. It provides programs and services to the livestock export industry and other industry sectors. However, unlike the funding from producer groups who pay compulsory levies, livestock exporters and meat producers make voluntary contributions to support these programs.

Livestock exporters and meat processors established separate voluntary funded companies (Livecorp Ltd and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation Ltd respectively) with compulsory levies reduced to zero, although the Government retained the power to raise these if industry failed to collect sufficient funds to finance agreed collective activities with producers.

Livecorp (the Australian Livestock Export Corporation Limited) is fully owned by Australian livestock exporters through the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC). It is responsible for identifying and supporting research and development initiatives in the interests of livestock exporters, developing and administering industry standards, accrediting livestock exporters against those standards, and providing training Livestock Export Review 2003 18ഊfor people in the industry. It administers the Livestock Export Accreditation Program
(LEAP), which is the livestock export industry self-regulatory Quality Assurance Program.

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AUSMEAT was established as a joint venture company, funded equally by MLA and AMPC to provide auditing services against industry standards and relevant codes of practice, to maintain a universal trading language for meat and livestock and to develop and implement quality assurance systems for the industry.

A Memorandum of Understanding was agreed between the various industry sectors, industry-established companies and the Government to achieve cooperation in the overall interests of the red meat industry.

Figure 6 sets out the red meat industry structure showing the relationship among the companies, organisations and government.

Figure 6 – The red meat industry structure showing the relationship among companies, organisations and government.

 graph showing relation between government & industry jpg

In addition to the companies established at that time, there are a number of other industry organisations that have an interest in the outcomes of livestock exports including Liveship, which represents the interests of the livestock carriers (i.e. shipowners).

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8 Policy and regulatory oversight of the livestock export industry

Policy responsibilities and formal regulatory oversight of the livestock export industry is a shared arrangement between Australian Government and State and Territory agencies. The States and Territories have responsibility for matters of production, management and transport of the animals, while the Australian Government has responsibility for the actual export of the animals.

At the Australian Government level, the activities of the livestock export industry primarily come within the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) portfolio.

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is advised by a non-statutory committee, the National Consultative Committee on Animal Welfare (NCCAW), on the national implications of welfare issues affecting livestock, wild animals and animals used in research and for recreation; and the effectiveness and appropriateness of national codes of practice, policies, guidelines and legislation to safeguard or further the welfare of animals and protect the national interest.

Within DAFF, a number of business units have responsibility for aspects of the livestock export trade. One of these, Market Access and Biosecurity, is responsible for negotiating the health requirements which importing countries want the Australian Government to certify.

Another, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS), administers the two primary pieces of Commonwealth legislation governing the industry: the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997 (AMLI Act) and the Export Control Act 1982.

The AMLI Act requires all livestock exporters to have a licence before they are eligible to apply for an export permit for a specific consignment of animals. To be eligible for a licence, an exporter, among other things, must be accredited by Livecorp and must allow Livecorp to audit their quality assurance systems for managing the export of livestock.

As at November 2003, there were 83 livestock exporters accredited by Livecorp who were licensed under the AMLI Act. Of the 83 licensed exporters, 51 held full accreditation and 32 held provisional accreditation from Livecorp, although all are able to export. Of the 83 licensed exporters, 77 were accredited to export by both air and sea, with just six exporters holding air-only accreditation.

Under the AMLI Act, AQIS has power to place conditions on licences. For example, it has used this power to prevent the export of certain animals at particular times of the year, or to prohibit export altogether; and it is through this power that all trade to Saudi Arabia is banned.

The Export Control Act 1982, and specifically the Export Control (Animals) Orders, requires a licensed exporter to meet a range of other criteria before being issued with an export permit. These criteria largely relate to whether the health and welfare of the animals can be assured in the export process and whether they meet the specifications of the importing country. Whether the animals meet these criteria is a judgement of an AQIS veterinarian who must issue the export permit. This decision is largely based on documentation presented by a ‘third party’ veterinarian, employed by the exporter, who is responsible for preparing the animals for export and presenting documentation to the AQIS veterinarian to assure him/her that all requirements have been met. These ‘third party’ veterinarians are not recognised in the legislation and are solely responsible to their employer, the exporter. The AQIS veterinarian reviews the documentation and inspects the animals before deciding whether to issue the export permit.

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Under the Export Control (Animals) Orders AQIS has power to place conditions on export permits. For example, it has recently used this power to require exporters to have veterinarians on shipments to the Middle East, and to have those veterinarians report to it on the condition of the animals during the journey.

Issues relating to the welfare of animals on board ship, during an export journey, come within the responsibility of AMSA, which administers the Navigation Act 1912 and Part 43 of the Australian Commonwealth Marine Orders. These contain provisions relating to ship design, fodder and water supplies, the number of animals that may be carried and their stocking density, and the design and arrangement of pens and care of livestock on board. AMSA’s requirements already lead the world in ship design for livestock exports. Further enhancements to the AMSA standards, proposed for introduction in 2006, will mean that many ships currently in the trade will be retired. This should leave a more modern and efficient fleet available for use in the Australian export trade.

The Marine Orders also contain the specific provisions for ‘reportable’ mortality levels (i.e. the level of mortalities on ships that must be reported to AMSA). This means DAFF and AQIS rely on AMSA for official information on mortalities, which adds to the complexity of the regulatory arrangements for identifying breaches and applying sanctions.

Since 2001, the Saudi Live Export Program (SLEP) has also required that veterinarians employed by the exporter travel on each shipment of sheep and goats to Saudi Arabia and report on the condition of the animals on board. Following the extended closure of the Saudi trade in the early 1990s for alleged significant non-compliances with health requirements, SLEP was introduced as an industry quality assurance program to ensure that industry, Australian Government and importing country specifications are fully met in relation to the export of sheep and goats to Saudi Arabia. SLEP sets out additional requirements to those in the Australian Live Export Standards that must be met by exporters.

The limitation of SLEP is that, apart from being supported by an AMLI Order that prevents export of sheep and goats to Saudi Arabia other than by exporters specifically accredited by Livecorp for that country, it is not specifically referenced in official documentation with the importing country and Australian sanctions for breach of its provisions reside with the industry. Livecorp monitors compliance with SLEP requirements and has responsibility for advising AQIS if there is a breach of SLEP requirements. However up until July 2003 it has never advised any breach, although some veterinarians who accompanied shipments had reported their concerns with some aspects of the voyage.

A full list of the Commonwealth legislation governing the livestock export industry is at Appendix 5.

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State and Territory governments also have a range of responsibilities for aspects of the livestock trade. These relate to matters of general animal health and welfare, production, feedlots and holding yards and transportation of the animals to the ports of loading. However, State and Territory governments are not required to assure Australian Government authorities that their requirements have been met prior to export.

The Animal Welfare Unit in West Australia and in other states the RSPCA or DPI also has formal responsibilities in relation to livestock exports. It is responsible under the States and Territory Prevention of Cruelty to Animals legislation, for enforcing prevention of cruelty to animals within their areas of responsibility.

9 Codes of practice in the livestock export industry

The Model Codes are used by the States and Territories to develop their own codes and to set standards which can be prescribed and enforced by legislation. In establishing the content of codes it should be made clear that industry representation always outweigh representation by animal welfare advocates to the point that improvements on existing codes is rarely achieved.

The codes are also intended to provide a basis for animal welfare standards in industry quality assurance programs, such as Livecorp’s Livestock Export Accreditation Program (LEAP). The Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock require that those involved in exporting live animals shall also comply with State Codes.

A list of the six current Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) relevant to the preparation and transportation of sheep, cattle and goats for export is here. (link to ASEL). Appendix 6 contains links to relevant Codes of Practice.

During 2008 and 2009 the Federal Government contracted an industry organisation; Animal Health Australia to develop the Standards and Guidelines for animal in transport. These ‘rules’ will cover all animals except companion animals and their aim is to provide a set of laws upon which all states agree thereby establishing one set of transport laws for the whole of Australia. The group involved consisted mainly of industry and government (who’s role is to support industry) with two animal welfare advocates groups represented. Essentially, the group was weighted heavily in favour of industry, and of course decisions were made on votes counted.

It is planned that the Standards and Guidelines for transporting animals will be adopted in each state in 2010. There are 2 deciding factors as to the effectiveness of the Standards and Guidelines for transporting animals. Education of the industry plays a major part with any new legislation and given the lack of knowledge of many within industry of codes which have been in existence for 20 or so years, it appears a change of culture will not eventuate. Secondly, enforcement will be the other major factor.

There is an absolute lack of enforcement of both ASEL and state legislation. It is the opinion of Live Export Shame that existing problems within industry will change with new legislation because there will be very little enforcement. Although state governments claim that animal welfare is a priority, this is clearly misleading; because they provide only minimal funding to an enormous and every growing issue.

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10 Standards in the livestock export industry

The Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) are the minimum requirements for the export of cattle, buffalo, sheep and goats from Australia.

The Standards were developed through a committee comprising the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC), the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS), the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), the National Consultative Committee on Animal Welfare (NCCAW) and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA). They were intended to ensure that:

  • only healthy animals that meet all animal health and welfare requirements and export specifications are presented for export; and
  • there is considerate management with a minimum of stress and injury at all stages of the export process.

Livecorp and others regard the ALES primarily as practicable standards set by and for industry.

The matters covered by ALES include:

- selection of animals for export;
- preparation of animals for export;
- use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals;
- management of an assembly depot;
- design and facilities of such depots;
- land transportation requirements;
- inspection for fitness to travel;
- requirements for export by sea or air;
- specifications (and adherence to specifications); and
- humane destruction of animals.

It is generally recognised that the ASEL are inadequate, because the exporter is not COMPELLED to show compliance and because for the majority of the ASEL, from sourcing animals at farms to feedlot there is no enforcement. AQIS become involved at feedlot but do not inspect every animal in Western Australia. They prefer to leave this to the vet contracted to the exporter. At portside the vet contracted to the exporter again is responsible for checking the 80,000 + animals as they run passed him on the way to the door of the ship.

There is NO routine and or regular inspection of animals contained on trucks.

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11 The livestock export process

AQIS is the principal regulatory agency for livestock exports. In practice it is dependent on a number of other parties to ensure that all requirements and specifications are met. The basic process for agreeing import protocols with importing countries, sourcing animals, transporting and preparing and inspecting livestock for export, is set out in Table 2.

Table 2 – The basic process for agreeing import protocols with importing countries, sourcing animals, transporting and preparing and inspecting livestock for export (Source: DAFF).

The complexity of this as a regulatory system, with its myriad and disparate responsibilities, spread across a large number of parties, means that it is difficult to ascribe particular responsibility for problems and ensure compliance with requirements. As a result, and despite its pivotal role, in an environment of industry ‘self-regulation’, AQIS has found it difficult to achieve an effective level of over-arching coordination and control. The Review had concerns that the current inspection, certification and approval process by the AQIS veterinarians appears to rely on a simple ticking-off of a checklist, with inadequate audit and verification checks to underpin the process.

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This can be seen clearly in the history of investigations and sanctions against livestock exporters. Until October 2002, there had been very few actions taken by either AQIS or Livecorp against livestock exporters for breaches of industry standards or provisions in the legislation. It was considered that, since the 1998 reforms to the industry, Livecorp had the primary responsibility for sanctions against exporters who could be demonstrated to have breached standards. This was through their accreditation role, whereby they could withdraw or downgrade an exporter’s accreditation.

Following a series of high mortality events on livestock export ships to the Middle East in 2002, more attention was paid by AQIS to investigating particular causes of adverse events and imposing regulatory sanctions on individual livestock exporters.

Between October 2002 and October 2003, 13 livestock exporters were investigated by AQIS for potential breaches of export regulations. As a result of these investigations one export licence was cancelled and one was suspended. In addition, six exporters were audited by AQIS to verify that they had complied with conditions placed on their export licences.

In July 2003, allegations were made in the national media that the level of mortalities in a consignment of sheep to the Middle East in 2001 had been under-reported. As this was a consignment prepared and exported under SLEP arrangements, all reports of the voyage had been sent to Livecorp. A subsequent investigation by AQIS into the allegations concluded that, notwithstanding admissions by the exporter that the level of mortalities on this and other voyages was routinely under-reported to Saudi authorities, there was no evidence of under-reporting to Australian authorities; therefore no offence had been committed against Australian legislation and no action could be taken by AQIS. Quite apart from this unsatisfactory outcome, the Review questions whether, in a governance sense, AQIS should be the investigator of such claims when it is the agency with the oversight responsibility.


Appendix 5
Commonwealth legislation governing the livestock export industry

The principle Commonwealth statutes and their relevant subordinate legislation, which govern the livestock export industry are as follows.

Export Control Act 1982

Export Control (Orders) Regulations

Export Control (Animals) Orders

Prescribed Good (General) Orders

Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1987

Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Export Licensing) Regulations 1998

Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Live Sheep and Goat Exports to Saudi Arabia) Order 2002 - incorporating Saudi Livestock Export Program Industry Standards (SLEP) (revoked on 28 October 2003 )

Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Export of Live-stock to Saudi Arabia) Order 2003 (commenced on 28 October 2003)

Navigation Act 1912

Marine Orders Part 43 Cargo & Handling – Livestock Issue 5.

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Appendix 6
Model Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals

The current eight Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals relevant to the preparation and transportation of sheep, cattle and goats are set out below.

Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Cattle, SCARM Report 39 (1992)
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Land Transport of
Cattle, SCARM Report 77 (1999) 1
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: The Goat, SCARM Report 32 (1991)
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Air Transport of Livestock (1986) *
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Rail Transport of Livestock (1983) *
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Road Transport of Livestock (1983) *
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Sea Transport of Livestock (1987) *
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: The Sheep, SCARM Report 29 (1991)

The above four Model Codes that are marked * are available from the website -
http://www.mincos.gov.au/publications.htm#meeting_records under the heading -

Reports/national standards/codes of practice

All the other Model Codes are available on the CSIRO website –

http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/22/sid/11.htm

There are 18 Model Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals on the CSIRO website.

The 18 codes on the CSIRO website combined with the 4 codes listed above and marked * comprise the full set of current Models Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals in Australia.

A new edition of the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Cattle has recently been finalised and will be submitted the Primary Industries Ministerial Council early in 2004 for out of session endorsement.

New codes covering the land transport of sheep and goats are currently being developed and, when endorsed, will supercede those parts of the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Rail Transport of Livestock (1983) * and the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Road Transport of Livestock (1983) * that apply to sheep and goats.

1 The Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Land Transport of Cattle (SCARM Report 77) supercedes those parts of the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Rail Transport of Livestock (1983) * and the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Road Transport of Livestock (1983) * that apply to cattle.

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