Author Topic: Govt accepts recommendations on breeder livestock exports 30.4.2013  (Read 976 times)

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Govt accepts recommendations on breeder livestock exports 30.4.2013
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2013, 11:42:47 PM »
Livestock exporters will face added responsibilities designed to improve protections for exported breeding stock after the Federal Government accepted the recommendations of a review into export policies on Tuesday.

The need for stronger protections for Australian breeding livestock in importing countries was one of several issues identified by Bill Farmer AO in his 2011 review of welfare standards in the live export trade, which was sparked by television footage of mistreatment of Australian cattle in Indonesian abattoirs in May of that year.

The Farmer review led to the introduction of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System in Australian export markets, which makes exporters responsible for the welfare of exported stock right through to the point of slaughter in foreign markets.

However ESCAS deals specifically with cattle exported for the feeder and slaughter market, and does not cover livestock exported specifically for use in breeding programs or milking herds.

The task of developing assurance protocols for exported breeding cattle involves extra layers of complexity because breeding stock can be sold into a diverse range of production systems, from large to small, from government to privately-owned and from metropolitan settings to distant and remote rural locations.

The fact that breeding cattle can have productive lives of 10 years or more before they are eventually processed also raises questions about how long exporters can be reasonably expected to maintain legal responsibility for exported stock.

In his 2011 review Mr Farmer, a former Australian ambassador to Indonesia, recommended that the Australian Government look at whether a need exists for additional conditions for the export trade in breeder livestock.

His final report acknowledged the practical difficulties involved in extending arrangements for feeder cattle to breeding stock: “It would be difficult, costly and intrusive for the Australian Government/industry to maintain a ‘line of sight’ arrangement for breeders, particularly over the many years that breeders may live prior to being sold for slaughter," he wrote.
“The Review does not believe that it is practicable or reasonable to impose that requirement on regulators or industry.”
After Mr Farmer’s review, agriculture minister Joe Ludwig tasked the Industry Government Implementation Group (IGIG) – made up of representatives of industry bodies, export companies and Government departments – to review the need for breeder cattle protocols.
Additional protections needed to protect breeder welfare  In its report released on Tuesday, the IGIG found there was a need for additional conditions to protect the welfare of breeder exports.
The review identified a number of potential animal welfare risks for breeder livestock including slaughter through non-ESCAS pathways soon after arrival in the importing country or at the end of productive life and poor animal husbandry practices during productive life.
Deliberate circumvention of the ESCAS requirements for feeder/slaughter livestock exports by declaring the animals as breeder livestock was also deemed a potential risk.
“The IGIG considers that the risk of an animal welfare incident occurring is lower for breeder exports than for feeder/slaughter livestock," its report states.
“On this basis, it recommends that the exporter take responsibility for due diligence checks and provide a declaration to the regulator to enable confirmation of the suitability of the
 first point of ownership in the importing country.”
However, in line with the Farmer Review, the IGIG found it was not practical or reasonable for exporters to be responsible for breeder livestock through to the point of death, or to be responsible for the progeny of livestock exported from Australia.
The four recommendations of the IGIG review were:
  • By August 2013 a review of the criteria used to confirm the legitimacy of breeding livestock consignments will be completed by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and industry;
  • By August 2013 Australia’s livestock export industry will establish industry-based arrangements to manage the risk associated with Australian breeder livestock moving into slaughter chains where they are held in an ESCAS facility;
  • By the end of 2013 DAFF will require a declaration from an exporter confirming due diligence has been undertaken to ensure acceptable animal welfare outcomes will be achieved at the first breeder facility in the importing country; and
  • Industry and government will continue to pursue improvement in the implementation of international animal welfare standards – government through the OIE and export businesses through support to breeding facilities and through animal welfare research, development and extension materials.
Mr Ludwig said the Gillard Government has accepted the four recommendations.
He said the breeding trade was an important part of Australian primary industry, with 125,000 cattle and close to 11,000 sheep exported from Australia in 2012 for breeding purposes (click on image below article to view table of Australian breeding cattle exports to various markets from 2006 to 2012).
“Through this review, the IGIG has identified ways to strengthen the future of the trade by enhancing the animal welfare conditions, while managing the regulatory impact," Mr Ludwig said.
“A big part of the review is improving how we certify that livestock are legitimately being exported as breeders.”
The recommendations also dealt with occasions where animals are exported as breeding livestock but were found to be unsuitable for breeding.
“When these animals are held in the same facilities as feeder animals, industry will now ensure processing in accordance with ESCAS regulations, including traceability and animal welfare requirements,” he said.
“This will help to manage the perceived risk that breeder exports could be used to avoid ESCAS requirements.”
Mr Ludwig said the added exporter responsibilities will be put in place to ensure acceptable animal welfare outcomes will be maintained at the first breeder facility in the importing country.
The Government will review the implementation of these recommendations in two years time to ensure their ongoing effectiveness.
The IGIG includes members from the peak industry bodies, major exporters, state and territory representatives as well as officials from DAFF.
The report on the review of breeder livestock exports is available on the DAFF website.

By James Nason
30 Apr 2013
« Last Edit: April 30, 2013, 11:47:40 PM by WA Export News »