Cattle exporters and importers have resolved to establish a new taskforce to oversee animal welfare compliance in Indonesia, after meeting in Jakarta on Monday.
The move represents a significant coming-together of all industry players to collectively address future risks in supply chains, Australian Livestock Exporters Council (ALEC) chief executive officer Alison Penfold told Beef Central yesterday.
Monday’s meeting was convened by ALEC and the Indonesian cattle importers association (APFINDO) and involved more than 50 representatives from importing and exporting companies.
Each company has individually managed its own compliance with the Federal Government’s Export Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) to date.
However commercial rivals were now recognising the need to work more closely together to ensure supply chains achieved appropriate levels of compliance across the trade.
No one in the industry is eager to see a return to the same situation in which it currently finds itself, with the public release of more negative footage and a Government investigation underway.
ESCAS accredited supply chains will face a major test in July and August when large volumes of Australian cattle are processed in Indonesia for the Ramadan and Eid festive season.
Ms Penfold said Monday’s meeting involved constructive discussions aimed at collectively identifying risks to supply chains and the management of non-compliance issues.
The meeting resolved to establish a task force to oversee animal welfare compliance in the market and to make recommendations on measures that require implementation. The Taskforce will include representatives from ALEC, Livecorp, MLA, APFINDO, and individual company staff.
The industry was taking a cooperative approach to ensure that all players were on “the same page” and under no illusions as to their responsibilities in the market.
“We don’t want the system being judged on the weakest link,” Ms Penfold told Beef Central yesterday after returning from Jakarta.
“If we’re working collectively to address future risk, there is less and less chance there will be a weak link.
“This is about strengthening ESCAS, and enhancing those elements of compliance around training, around having those animal welfare officers on the ground, being able to have the capacity to deal with those issues immediately.”
Areas of risk include abattoirs that have multiple processing lines which process both Australian cattle through ESCAS accredited lines and local Indonesian cattle through non-ESCAS accredited lines. The industry wants to ensure there is no chance Australian cattle can be run through non-compliant lines.
Other areas of perceived risk include the management of supply chains and non-ESCAS cattle, such as breeding cattle, to ensure a sound traceability protocol is developed.
“We’re wanting to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to these issues,” Ms Penfold said.
“They all want the industry to continue and to prosper, they have been through some difficult times, so the view is that if they can get their heads together, it will be a better outcome for all concerned.”
Every company individually employs Animal Welfare Officers in Indonesia to manage compliance on a continuous basis and to identify where further training needs are required.
Between 70 and 80pc of abattoirs accredited to handle Australian cattle in Indonesia now also use pre-slaughter stunning, which is over and above the OIE requirements.
On the question of second quarter permits, Ms Penfold said the Indonesian Government had still not made a public announcement, but internal advice continued to indicate a figure of 125,000 head.