Meat & Livestock Australia on Friday pitched a $9 million animal welfare assurance plan to Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig, designed to progressively reopen the live cattle export trade to Indonesia.
In a media statement issued Friday evening, MLA managing director David Palmer said a progressive reopening would test the effectiveness of the new systems currently being implemented to assure the welfare of Australian cattle.
It is proposed that the cattle being held in northern Australian quarantine facilities would be exported as part of the re-opening, which would address the immediate welfare concerns around these cattle.
“We have had the opportunity to discuss the industry’s position with the Minister and it was a constructive meeting,” Mr Palmer said in the press release.
"The industry and government working group is also progressing the development of the plan. The industry has told us clearly – they don’t want contingency funds, they want an export industry,” Mr Palmer said.
“There are three objectives here. The welfare of our animals, the welfare of our people across northern Australia, and the food security needs of our neighbour, Indonesia.”
The statement also outlined progress on implementing its Industry Plan.
The Plan focuses on the independent assessment and accreditation of abattoirs against OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) animal welfare standards – at a minimum. These standards were endorsed by major political parties this week.
MLA and LiveCorp’s team of animal welfare experts, working with Indonesian cattle importers, had focused on a range of activities over the past two weeks to enable the swift resumption of Australia’s live export trade:
- Increased stunning: There are now 11 Indonesian facilities using stunning equipment. Building on the five that were already in use, another two facilities have been assisted to install stunning equipment, and an Indonesian importer has supplied another four facilities. A further three facilities have been identified to have stunning installed as a priority. Expert training has been delivered with MLA/LiveCorp personnel providing additional technical support.
- Improved infrastructure: As requested by Indonesia, a program to review abattoir infrastructure and design has started. This will develop alternative options based on a Temple Grandin standing slaughter design, which will allow for both stunning and processing in the standing position. Designs will consider local conditions, including the lack of electricity, and skill levels to allow it to be manually operated.
- OIE compliance assurance program: An audit checklist for all sectors of the livestock import trade in Indonesia will be used to assess whether their operations comply with OIE standards. Individual feedlots and abattoirs will need to have management procedures in place for staff training, maintaining equipment, feed programs, management of cattle and slaughter procedures.
- Traceability of cattle within Indonesia: A team is urgently developing a traceability system for cattle in Indonesia. This will enable importers to trace animals from the vessel into the feedlot, and then out of the feedlot and into the abattoir.
- Training animal welfare officers: MLA will train 30 animal welfare officers before the end of June. These animal welfare officers will be stationed in all facilities processing Australian cattle. The training will cover animal handling training, Halal slaughter practices, standard operating procedures, hygiene and stunning training.
- Increased training for Indonesian abattoir workers: a team of eight Australian stock handling experts have conducted intensive training programs over the past two weeks.
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