Live Export Shame

All News Updates & Public Comment => Live Export News Updates => : Export News Tasmania May 18, 2012, 04:22:36 PM

: Action recommended against exporters - Delusional DAFF
: Export News Tasmania May 18, 2012, 04:22:36 PM
REGULATORY action against two live export companies - the Elders owned North Australian Cattle Company (NACC) and the WA based International Livestock Export (ILE) - has been recommended in the Federal government‘s recent investigation into alleged animal welfare breaches in Indonesian abattoirs.

The Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig says the outcome of his Department’s investigation over animal cruelty allegations raised in late February, shows the new supply chain system is working according to plan.

The investigation has taken about three months to complete and is the first under the government’s new supply chain regulations; the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS).

ESCAS was implemented by the Federal government and live export industry members, following the abrupt closure of the Indonesian live cattle trade last year, amid unprecedented animal cruelty concerns.

The system is still being implemented for other live export markets, like the Middle East, and is underpinned by greater levels of traceability and accountability for animal welfare.

Industry sources have been tight-lipped about the investigation despite its potential ramifications - but the report was made public on the Federal Agriculture Department’s website this morning.

On February 24, the Department received a formal complaint from Animals Australia alleging non-compliance with animal welfare guidelines that might involve cattle exported from Australia to Indonesia under the ESCAS.

The complaint included video footage that Animals Australia said was taken on 24-26 January 2012 and was accompanied by an RSPCA Australia analysis of the same video footage.

The vision featured in a report on ABC TV’s Lateline program in late January that showed abattoir workers cutting up animals that were still conscious after having their throats slit un-stunned.

The RSPCA said it calculated 46 potential breaches of the new supply chain regulations in the vision.

But the Cattle Council of Australia said the footage - taken with a hidden camera by Indonesian animal activists and sent to Animals Australia - demonstrated that significant improvements had been made in the Indonesian market but some breaches of check-list standards had occurred.

They also raised concerns that some of the cattle shown in the footage were not Australian animals, which the investigation conformed.

An executive summary of the Department’s report of the investigation said four exporters had the potential to have an approved ESCAS potentially linked to an abattoir in the video footage.

The investigation determined that the slaughter lines shown in the video footage at two of the four abattoirs were part of an approved ESCAS for two exporters and the slaughter lines at two abattoirs were not part of an approved ESCAS for any exporter.

At the two abattoirs determined to be part of an approved ESCAS, the Department considered the cattle shown in the video footage made at one of the abattoirs to have been sourced from Australia.

In the other abattoir, the Department considered the cattle were highly likely to have been sourced from Australia.

Department animal welfare experts assessed the video footage and determined that in the two abattoirs, that were part of an approved ESCAS, there was evidence of non-compliances with ESCAS animal welfare performance measures and targets, the executive summary said.

“The investigation recommends that the Secretary take regulatory action with regard to the two exporters, North Australian Cattle Company Pty Ltd (NACC) and International Livestock Export Pty Ltd (ILE) with an approved ESCAS that each included an abattoir where non-compliances with ESCAS animal welfare performance measures and targets occurred,” the report said.

Two other exporters initially identified by the Department as potentially linked to the video footage were fully cleared of having any connection with the investigated footage.

The Department determined that the two exporters - Australian Rural Exports Pty Ltd (Austrex) and Wellard Rural Exports Pty Ltd (Wellard), did not have either of the relevant slaughter lines in their approved supply chains at the time the footage was taken.

In addition, the Department said cattle filmed in the relevant sequences were not sourced from Australia and accordingly, those exporters were excluded from any further part in the investigation.

The investigation also made observations directed towards closing information and risk gaps that the investigation revealed in the current process for approval of an ESCAS.

Minister Ludwig said last year, the Gillard government rolled out significant reforms that placed animal welfare at the heart of the live export trade.

He said the Department’s report was evidence of the new regulatory system at work.

“There is now a system in place that allows the regulator to identify supply chains, identify animals and identify exporters,” he said.

“The system requires Australian exporters to ensure control of their approved supply chain to ensure animal welfare outcomes.

“It also allows the regulator to investigate when issues are raised and take action.

“The new system provides the checks and balances the community expects for the live export trade to continue.

“This Government will continue to support the trade, as well as the jobs, families and communities that rely upon it.

“The fact that some exporters do not meet the standards we require should not overshadow the progress that many in the industry have made to date.”

Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council CEO Alison Penfold said the two exporters highlighted in the investigation undertook the necessary remedial action immediately upon receiving the footage, thus ensuring they complied with ESCAS requirements.

Ms Penfold said that remedial action included the cessation of supply to one abattoir, installation of head restraint infrastructure, additional training of abattoir workers and the appointment of animal welfare officers in the facilities.

She said the new regulatory system enabled exporters to very quickly identify, isolate and fix any activities that do not meet the required animal welfare standards.

“As industry constructs new infrastructure and implements changes to slaughter procedures and practices, issues will arise but what is important is that when they do, exporters and their Indonesian customers are swiftly taking action to ensure the wellbeing of livestock,” Ms Penfold said.

Ms Penfold said the new export arrangements have helped transform the way Australian animals are managed through the export supply chain.

She said standards have been raised and the welfare processes and practices that sit behind the new regulatory system, ESCAS, continue to improve.

But she said exporters were concerned that the government’s regulatory response failed to credit the remedial work undertaken by the two exporters involved and was “unnecessarily heavy handed” in placing additional requirements on other facilities.

The Government’s response adds significant extra cost burdens to the supply chain and does not take into account that ESCAS is a new system which sets unprecedented requirements on the exporters that must be delivered in developing countries, she said.

“The industry remains committed to ESCAS and the wellbeing of the animals as they pass through the supply chain,” she said.

“While any instances of non-compliance are regrettable, what this DAFF report highlights is how just quickly industry is moving to isolate and fix any problems to minimise the impact on animal welfare.”

BY COLIN BETTLES
18 May, 2012

http://theland.farmonline.com.au/news/nationalrural/livestock/cattle/action-recommended-against-exporters/2560724.aspx?storypage=0