The Department of Agriculture has released three compliance investigation reports that concern the welfare of Australian livestock exported to overseas markets.
The compliance reports examine allegations that animals were found in unauthorised locations as well as improper animal handling and slaughter, in Jordan and Malaysia.
The department has determined in some instances handling and slaughter was not consistent with World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) standards or animals left approved facilities inconsistent with Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) requirements.
The investigation of sheep exported to Jordan concluded that it is highly likely many of the sheep shown in photographs and videos were of Australian origin and more likely than not that they were exported under ESCAS arrangements. There was only sufficient material to support a finding against one exporter. The department recorded a non compliance against Livestock Shipping Services in relation to a finding of unauthorised movement of sheep in Jordan. The department did not record a finding against the other exporter to Jordan, Wellard Rural Exports Pty Ltd.
While investigations are underway, the department has acted to place additional conditions on consignments of affected exporters to Jordan for export applications that have been subsequently approved.
The department has also required exporters to remove feedlots and abattoirs from supply chains where they are not able to meet the ESCAS standard at this time.
Additional conditions the department has applied on consignments to Jordan include:
- 24 hour security be applied at feedlots and abattoirs in supply chains
- Supply chain officers to regularly reconcile the number of animals in supply chains
- Independent audit of each supply chain officers’ reconciliations
- Additional identification to be applied to animals on arrival to and departure from feedlots (for example, a prominent and easily visible wool mark)
- The exporter to make monthly declarations to the department about the number of animals in the supply chain
- An increase in frequency of independent audits for an approved supply chain.
The investigation of cattle exported to Malaysia found some aspects of animal handling and slaughter did not meet OIE animal welfare recommendations. Two exporters were using the abattoir at the time. However, cattle shown in the footage could not be linked to any individual exporter.
While the investigation was underway, the department acted to place additional conditions on the exporters, Australian Rural Exports Pty Ltd and International Livestock Export Pty Ltd, including providing an animal welfare officer at the abattoir to oversee slaughter and an additional audit.
The investigation of sheep and goats exported to Malaysia found some aspects of animal handling did not meet OIE animal welfare recommendations. Whether the animals had been exported at the time ESCAS applied in Malaysia could not be determined.
While the investigation was underway, the department acted to place additional conditions on the exporters, Capricorn Pastoral Pty Ltd and Lembiru, including that exporters provide monthly reconciliations of stock in supply chains.
Additional conditions are applied when the department considers that they are necessary to promote compliance with the approved ESCAS. The department assesses all relevant information, including the exporter’s compliance record, in deciding whether or not to approve consignments or place additional conditions on consignments.
Exporters have also implemented their own measures to improve animal handling and slaughter, including providing further training at ESCAS facilities in the importing countries.
The department has also released two reports into mortality incidents. One report is an Elders International Australia cattle consignment by sea to Japan and the second is an Independent Livestock Services sheep consignment by air to Malaysia.
The department applied additional conditions on the exporters’ subsequent consignments. Exporters have successfully exported animals under these additional conditions without reaching the reportable mortality threshold.
Since 2005, a report has been tabled in Parliament by the Minister on livestock mortalities that occur on voyages by sea.
The compliance investigation reports can be viewed on the Department of Agriculture website.
Source: Department of Agriculture