The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) signed an official Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Indonesian Veterinary Medical Association (IVMA) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, last week. The charity has agreed to co-operate with the IVMA on a number of issues to improve the welfare of cattle at slaughter, with priority given to developing a humane slaughter training programme, for introduction next year.
WSPA said its work with IVMA began last year, when another animal welfare group revealed undercover video footage, filmed in Indonesian abattoirs, which showed “poor slaughter techniques” and Australian cattle being treated with “unnecessary cruelty”. A subsequent WSPA investigation revealed that Indonesian cattle were receiving similar treatment at slaughter.
WSPA’s director of programmes for Asia-Pacific Emily Reeves said: “Farm animals have the ability to experience pain and fear. Their welfare is paramount and they should never be treated cruelly. We commend Indonesia and the IVMA for recognising this fact and for taking the first steps to improve the treatment of cattle in Indonesian abattoirs.”
IVMA chairperson Dr Wiwiek Bagja added: “Animal welfare is central to the veterinarian’s code of ethics in Indonesia. This collaboration with WSPA is one of the concrete steps of veterinary commitment to animal welfare in the country. Furthermore, it will support IVMA’s quest to obtain better laws and standards for animal welfare in Indonesia.”
The announcement comes days after WSPA released a report examining the economic benefits of Australia moving away from a live cattle export trade, with meat being processed locally and exported chilled instead.
The report concluded that processing cattle in northern Australia, instead of sending them for live export, could potentially create $204m additional gross regional product per annum, creating 1,300 full-time jobs and leading to a 245% earnings increase for local cattle farmers.
Commenting on the report, Australia’s Green spokesperson for animal welfare, Senator Lee Rhiannon, said: “The Greens strongly support the work of the WSPA and the meat workers’ union in advocating for the trade to come to northern Australia so that these economic benefits can occur… Australia might be the biggest live exporter at the moment but that will be to our detriment as the world moves towards taking more chilled and frozen meat.”
She added that the current situation, with a small number of rich and vocal cattle producers “dictating policy” to government, meant that most of the money from the trade was going overseas rather than benefiting local farmers.