Animals Australia is calling for mandatory notification of livestock producers whose animals have been involved in breaches of live export regulations.
It comes after more breaches of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) were detected Animals Australia in Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Lebanon during the recent Festival of Sacrifice.
Many of the livestock markets were repeat offenders, well known to the industry, Animals Australia maintains
“We were shocked to see Australian sheep once again being openly sold in notorious livestock markets,” said Animals Australia chief investigator Lyn White in a media statement issued today.
“It is abundantly clear that exporters believe that they have nothing to fear in terms of regulatory consequences.
“Perhaps feeling the wrath of the producers who entrusted animals into their care will act as a stronger motivator to comply with regulations.”
“Producers have every right to expect that any teething problems with this regulatory system would now be fixed.
“Yet four years later, export companies continue to flout the rules, and the cruelty that this system was established to prevent continues unabated.”
Animals Australia said its first comprehensive investigation in Malaysia showed animals openly being sold from importer’s feedlots and crudely slaughtered at private premises, in breach of ESCAS regulations.
“The handling and slaughter of Australian sheep and goats in Malaysia at numerous non-approved sites was some of the most distressing I have witnessed. It was nothing short of a blood bath,” Ms White said.
“That animals raised and cared for by Australian producers end up in such circumstances is appalling.
“Producers would be equally outraged, yet the only time that they are advised is on the occasions that we are able to determine an animal’s property of origin.”
“It should be mandatory for producers to be notified by the Department if their animals have been involved in breaches of regulations.
“Only then can they make informed decisions as to whether they want to continue to supply their animals to the export market.”
Animals Australia says it has written to over 50 producers to notify them that their animals have been involved in recent ESCAS breaches.
ALEC commends exporter actions in Malaysia
Meanwhile the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council says it has endorsed market suspensions on Malaysian importers and facilities which have failed to meet animal welfare, control and traceability standards during the annual Korban festival period in September.
ALEC CEO Simon Westaway said he commended Australian exporters with Malaysian supply chains for working proactively with regard to Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) non-compliance during the festival.
“Poor welfare outcomes are never condoned nor excused by exporters,” he said.
“As shown in the past month, not only in Malaysia for Korban but in the Middle East during Eid al Adha, transparency and accountability are important at all times in our industry and absolutely pivotal when problems in the supply chain are detected.”
Under ESCAS requirements, Australian livestock must not be sold outside of approved supply chains and cannot be purchased for home slaughter or for slaughter at facilities that have not been approved as meeting international animal welfare standards.
Mr Westaway said exporters were cooperating with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) in its investigations regarding supply chain leakages.
“Wherever deliberate supply chain breaches occur, the extensive powers regulating our markets should be exercised accordingly,” he said.
“Australian exporters have acted swiftly to identify non-compliant facilities in Malaysia, so that where there is clear evidence that our livestock export standards have not been respected, immediate market sanctions can be applied.
“Our message to the Malaysian supply chain is very simple. Just as Australian exporters must treat their ESCAS compliance obligations as absolute non-negotiables, our Malaysian partners and customers must do the same.”
Mr Westaway said while a number of facilities had already been suspended subsequent to information provided to DAWR by exporters, further sanctions were likely and could include industry action in accordance with the Malaysia ESCAS Control and Traceability Agreement, which came into effect on 10 June 2016.
Source: Animals Australia, Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council
HAVE YOUR SAY