The Gillard government announced yesterday (30 April) that it had adopted the recommendations made by the Industry Government Implementation Group (IGIG) review, which was launched in response to a recommendation made in Bill Farmer’s review of Australia’s live export trade.
Farmer recognised that including breeder cattle in the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS), which holds exporters responsible for the welfare of exported livestock right through to slaughter, would not be practical, due to the length of time they might live before being sent for processing. However, he recommended that the Australian government examine the current export system for breeder livestock and identify any possible improvements to ensure better welfare.
Recommendations made by the IGIG review include:
– a review of criteria for confirming the legitimacy of breeding livestock
– an industry-based arrangement to manage the risk of breeder cattle moving into slaughter chains where they are held in an ESCAS facility
– industry and government pursual of continuous improvement of international animal welfare standards
– industry provision of pre- and post-sale support to assist improvements to welfare in individual breeding facilities
– the requirement for a declaration that the exporter has completed due diligence and is satisfied.
Announcing the government’s adoption of the recommendations, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, said the new measures would help improve the welfare of breeding livestock while minimising red tape for industry.
“This trade is 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,” he said.
“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.”
However, welfare group Animals Australia said that it was “profoundly” disappointed by the report’s recommendations and claimed that industry profits had been put ahead of animal well-being.
“It is unacceptable that tens of thousands of Australian cattle, sheep, buffalo and goats will continue to be exported with no adequate safeguards in place and most to countries where there are no laws to protect them from cruelty,” said Animals Australia campaign director Lyn White.
“The government told us that the days of self-regulation of this industry were over, yet they are putting responsibility for the welfare of exported breeder animals straight back into the hands of industry.
“In effect, the recommendations in this review provide no reassurance whatsoever that animals will be treated humanely.”