Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud has travelled to Israel to lobby for the country to continue to take live animals from Australia.
The Israeli government has recently given support to a bill that would phase out the importation of animals from Australia and Europe for slaughter.
The bill proposes that the importation of live animals for slaughter be phased out gradually, with fixed quotas dropping by 25pc of 2017 trade volumes annually until an entire phase-out is completed.
The explanatory note to the bill says:
“The animals are imported from Australia and Europe in long sea journeys that could last for weeks. During the journeys the animals are kept in high stocking density, covered in faeces, and suffer from heat stress, from rough seas and from other severe damages.
Many of them get sick and many do not survive the journey.
Scientists and professional committees in Israel and worldwide all share the position that transport of live animals should be avoided when possible, the length of the voyages should be as short as possible and live transport should be substituted with meat trade.”
It further states that the amount of fresh meat imported to Israel is expected to rise in the next few years due to tax policy changes.
The Israeli bill was drafted in collaboration with Israeli animal rights groups, and opinion surveys are reported to show strong public support for the bill in Israel.
The bill is expected to be voted upon by the Israeli Parliament soon.
Israel imported 38,549 feeder cattle and 87,239 sheep from Australia in the past 12 months.
Mr Littleproud said in a statement issued this week that Australia has been talking with Israel for some time about why a ban is not good for Israeli consumers as well as what alternatives there may be to a ban.
The statement said Australia is the only country in the world which has standards which monitor animal welfare right through the live export supply chain.
The Australian Standard for the Export of Livestock enforces animal welfare from farm to vessel. The Export Supply Chain Assurance System enforces standards from offloading to slaughter, including through feedlot and abattoir facilities overseas which receive Australian livestock. The exporter supply chains need to be approved by the independent regulator. It is the leading model for the export of livestock.
“The live trade can be done by the right people, the right way,” Minister Littleproud said.
“The Australian Government has long been serious about animal welfare.
“With the McCarthy Review changes I’ve implemented, Israel can be assured we’re serious about animal welfare.
“Those changes include reduced stocking densities and independent observers on every boat supplying the truth of what happens on those voyages, and proof of it.
“The live sheep trade is important to our farmers, particularly our West Australian farmers. It was important I make the trip here and represent their interests as well as the interests of animal welfare.”
Source: Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, The Conversation