Outcomes of research into the proposed Livestock Global Assurance Program (LGAP) is expected to be provided to the livestock export industry in March 2016, after which the industry will consider the feasibility of implementation.
Since July 2011, the live export industry has operated under the Australian Government’s Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS).
MLA and Livecorp are jointly undertaking a research and development project to develop what they describe as a more robust assurance system that will strengthen the principles of ESCAS, better ensure the welfare of exported animals and demonstrate the professionalism of the trade while protecting the long-term sustainability of the entire industry.
The Livestock Global Assurance Program (LGAP) is currently in development and is due to be piloted in Malaysia (for goats), Indonesia (cattle) and the Middle East (sheep) in coming months.
Under ESCAS, regulatory requirements are only able to be placed on Australian exporters – not overseas’ facilities.
As a non-regulatory program, MLA says LGAP will be able to place requirements and consequences on in-market importers, auditors, feedlots and abattoirs, not just exporters.
It says in-market facilities would be more immediately accountable for their activities under LGAP, without the responsibility currently borne by exporters under ESCAS being diluted.
Australian exporters would continue to be subject to Australian Government export regulations, with LGAP being a means for them to more effectively demonstrate and ensure true compliance with the principles of ESCAS.
Adherence to the program’s requirements would be verified through internal and external audits. External auditing would be undertaken by independent organisations with no financial relationship between them and the entity being audited.
The consequences of non-conformance under LGAP would vary depending on the breach, but a major or critical non-conformity may result in the certification of a facility being suspended or withdrawn.
MLA says the proposed structure of LGAP aims to do more for improving the welfare of all animals in foreign markets, as it is not limited to just Australian livestock. The program will encourage developing markets to improve animal welfare practices by offering different levels of requirements and a pathway to improvement.
The development of LGAP is being guided by a consultative committee comprising livestock exporters and representatives from the Australian Department of Agriculture, the Australian Veterinary Association, MLA, LiveCorp and the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council. Significant consultation has also been occurring with exporters and in-market stakeholders, as well as producer representatives.
The development project is funded under the Livestock Export Program, with funding split by MLA (25%), LiveCorp (25%) and the Australian Government (50%).
Source: MLA. For more information visit www.livestockglobalassurance.org