Livestock exporters will be charged with ensuring animal welfare standards for breeder cattle are upheld in export countries, under new recommendations accepted by the Federal Government.
The recommendations, provided in a report prepared by a joint industry-government group, will require exporters to provide a declaration of welfare standards at the first facility animals arrive in after export.
Exporters must provide the declarations to the government by the end of the year to comply with the recommendations.
CEO of the Australian Livestock Exporters Council, Alison Penfold, says many exporters are already conducting similar welfare assessments.
“I think it will certainly heighten the due diligence that’s undertaken through the provision of a declaration,” she said.
“I think the key point is we’re not starting off from a standing start.”
If animals are found unsuitable for breeding after arriving in an export country, they will then be slaughtered in accordance with the regulations of the Export Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) for animal exports.
Animal welfare groups have criticised the requirements for not providing any welfare guarantees beyond the point of arrival
“What’s to stop an importer immediately selling the animals when they arrive to someone with much lower welfare standards?,” said Animals Australia spokesperson Lisa Chalk.
The recommendations support previous findings made by the 2011 Farmer Review into animal welfare that monitoring welfare standards for the life of an exported animal is unpractical.
Alison Penfold doesn’t think the fact that the declaration only covers the animal’s point of entry is a problem.
“There is not a practice of purchasing animals and on-selling them straight away,” she said.
“This issue’s been considered by a number of people and whole of life traceability is not on the table.”
But Animals Australia’s Lisa Chalk says the refusal to even consider a more independent assessment of animal welfare is a concern.
“The industry has shown through ESCAS that it can’t be trusted to verify these facilities are up to scratch,” she said.
“Australia shouldn’t be exporting any animals at all to countries without enforceable animal protection laws.”
By Flint Duxfield ABC