Author Topic: Australia to resume sending cattle and sheep to Egypt where welfare doesnt exist  (Read 4705 times)

WA Export News

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 Australia to resume live exports to Egypt.

Australia will restart its live export trade to Egypt under the ESCAS welfare regulations, the Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has announced.

The Minister says Australia and Egypt have agreed to implement the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS), which makes Australian exporters responsible for the welfare of Australian livestock up until the point of slaughter.

Under ESCAS, exporters can only send Australian livestock to feedlots and abattoirs that have been approved by the Australian Government, because they've been found to comply with international (OIE) welfare standards.

  Cattle wait in a roadtrain height=227 Photo: Australia and Egypt have agreed to resume the live export trade under Australia's ESCAS welfare arrangements. (Ben Collins)

Mr Joyce said Australia and Egypt have agreed 'on all matters' relating to a resumption of trade, and he welcomed the live export industry's decision to lift its self-imposed ban on live cattle exports to Egypt as a result of the agreement.

In May 2013, the industry suspended trade with Egypt after animal rights group Animals Australia released a series of videos showing the cruel handling and slaughter of cattle in two Egyptian facilities between October 2012 and April 2013.

At the time the video emerged, industry described the footage as "shocking and horrific", while Animals Australia said it was evidence for closing down the trade.

On Wednesday, the Federal Department of Agriculture released a report which found that the welfare arrangements in place between Australia and Egypt at the time the footage was taken, were insufficient.

It recommended that the live trade to Egypt should only recommence under the ESCAS arrangements.

Live export industry examines its options

Australia's live export industry has also previously called for ESCAS to be implemented in Egypt, and the Australian Livestock Exporters Council chief executive Alison Penfold says industry will now look closely at its options in resuming trade to Egypt.

She says the resumption of the sheep trade is likely to take longer, as that would require changing to the existing infrastructure at facilities likely to receive Australian sheep.

"In the short term, exporters will look to have the existing closed loop facilities approved under ESCAS particularly as there is interest in supplying cattle to the market for Ramadan," she said.

"But with Australia out of the market for the past two years, Brazil has moved in to at least one supply chain. And with that comes little to no welfare standards or oversight underpinning their export operations and it does little to improve welfare standards globally.

"Because of our regard for welfare, this puts Australian exporters at a competitive disadvantage."

Concerns over the treatment of Australian livestock in Egypt have been raised prior to the 2013 incident.

No Australian sheep have been exported to Egypt since 2006, when the trade was banned after the release of video showing the cruel and brutal treatment of Australian sheep.

Exports of Australian cattle to Egypt were also suspended that same year, after footage emerged of livestock having their tendons slashed before slaughter.

The live cattle trade resumed in 2010 after Australia and Egypt negotiated what was then a cutting-edge welfare agreement, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which aimed to provide close scrutiny of animal welfare by both Australian and Egyptian government agencies.

It was that MoU that the Department of Agriculture found to be insufficient, and recommended it should be replaced by the stricter ESCAS arrangements.

ESCAS has been progressively introduced in Australia's live export markets since mid-2011, when trade with Indonesia was also suspended over welfare concerns.

Western Australia welcomes resumption in trade

Western Australia is a major producer of both cattle and sheep for live export markets, and at least one WA MP expects the resumption in trade with Egypt will have major benefits for WA sheep and cattle exporters.

Rick Wilson is the Liberal MP for the federal electorate of O'Connor, which encompasses much of Western Australia's southern broadacre agricultural land, as well as pastoral properties in the Goldfields region.

He says opening up another market will relieve the pressure on WA meat producers.

"My brother, who's looking after the farm at the moment, has been trouble moving shipping weathers because there just hasn't been enough boats coming in. So it is great news, coming on the back of the news the memorandum of understanding into Bahrain has been re-established," he said.

"When we lose these markets, basically there's not many buyers in the market. That causes a collapse in the price but it also can lead to significant overstocking situations and we saw that in Queensland with the cattle industry."

Labor maintains live export support

Labor's agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon has welcomed the news that the live trade to Egypt is set to resume.

He says both he and the Opposition remain committed to the live trade and to ESCAS, which was introduced by the former government in 2011.

"I'm very confident, in fact I'm sure, that ESCAS gives us the best animal welfare program in the world.

"But in government I was further building on that, and I think we need to continue to build public confidence with further initiatives like the Inspector General for Live Animal Exports, which I was proposing to put in place," he said.

"It's sad that the Government has started to unwind some of those initiatives because we need to continue to build public confidence in a way that doesn't put too great a regulatory burden on the industry." 

ABC Rural  By Anna Vidot   20.3.2014
« Last Edit: March 20, 2014, 12:11:33 PM by WA Export News »