The Federal Department of Agriculture says it is committed to finding ways to deliver more efficient certification services for live animal exporters, but says cost increases from July 1 (tomorrow) are necessary to recover the full costs the department incurs.
The Australian Livestock Exporters Council last week described the decision to increase live animal export document processing, inspection, certification and registration fees and charges by up to 66 percent as an act of “bureaucratic bastardry” that sacrifices agricultural competitiveness in order to fix the Department of Agriculture’s bottom line.
In response to the council’s comments the Department of Agriculture said in a statement that the Australian Government was committed to Australia’s live animal export industry and was determined to see the trade grow.
The Department said cost recovery charges for live animal export certification are designed to recover the full cost the department incurs in demonstrating compliance with importing country requirements and the administration of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS).
“The government is committed to improving and streamlining the ESCAS system and is conducting a review of the system to identify ways in which the regulatory framework can be delivered more efficiently, at a lower cost, whilst maintaining the international animal welfare outcomes that Australians expect.
“The Department of Agriculture currently spends $10.1m a year in live animal export certification and ESCAS services, but only recovers $6.5 million to pay for those services. This shortfall has been a major contributor to the department’s operating deficit over the last three years and is not sustainable.”
Since September 2013, the government had re-opened the livestock export trade to Egypt, Bahrain and Iran, and was negotiating with Saudi Arabia, which is a former key market for Australian sheep.
“Increasing shipments of live cattle and sheep to overseas markets has been occurring and this will improve marketing opportunities for producers and exporters of livestock in Australia,” the statement said.