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ESCAS: Delivering Improved Animal Welfare Globally

The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC) has today welcomed the Government’s report into the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) which found that the implementation of ESCAS coupled with exporter and customer targeted training in handling, husbandry and slaughter practices and infrastructure investment in feedlots and abattoirs has delivered significant improvements to the welfare of Australian exported livestock and local livestock in export markets.

The Chairman of ALEC, Simon Crean said that in the just the two years of full ESCAS application the Australian livestock export trade has made huge inroads into improving animal welfare outcomes and placed the trade on a stronger footing to support its ongoing vital economic and job sustaining role in regional Australia.

“In 2011, the industry was in a difficult and dark place and facing its greatest challenge yet. The implementation of ESCAS – a world first attempt to manage the welfare of exported livestock along supply chains beyond our borders where significant welfare issues had been identified – was a bold move by the then Government and an incredible test of live exporters relationship with downstream customers”, Mr Crean said.

“But with the support of successive governments, the tenacity and commitment of exporters, the resource support of LiveCorp and Meat and Livestock Australia and the willingness of our customers and their staff to work with us, vastly improved treatment of Australian livestock overseas has been achieved and a steady course for further positive change has been established.

“That’s not to say that in getting to where we are today, we have not had our challenges along the way. As the report acknowledges there have still been mistreatment of livestock in the years under ESCAS – 22 incidents in total – that do not reflect well on the industry. But not only are these incidents much fewer under ESCAS, as an industry now, we look more harshly and critically on our failings, self-report them when they occur and work to treat the problems at the source as we strive for continuous improvement to be the best version of a live export industry we can be.

“A key to the improvements has been the millions invested in new and improved infrastructure and the training of over 7500 workers who have daily charge of Australian livestock in feedlots and abattoirs in over 19 countries around the world. Additionally, implementing processes like carcase only sales has enabled us to marry animal welfare, religious practices and commerce.

“Industry’s efforts have already been recognised by the OIE – the pre-eminent international animal health and welfare body. At the LIVEXchange Conference in October 2013 the Head of OIE’s International Trade section, Derek Belton said that the Australian live trade is leading the world in animal welfare and that industry’s investments in improving implementation of OIE welfare standards has its full and unequivocal support.

The Chief Executive Officer of ALEC, Alison Penfold said that exporters welcomed the report’s support for further reform of ESCAS.

“The Australian livestock export trade is not an industry that ever stands still so we welcome the Government’s commitment to pursue further improvements to ESCAS to remove unnecessary red tape and reduce the cost of its’ bureaucracy and build on the regulatory changes already made”, Ms Penfold said.

“If we are to remain internationally competitive in a robust global live trade environment and continue to provide the market alternatives for Australian cattle, buffalo, sheep and goat producers, we must have a regulatory structure that facilitates trade and helps us grow our influence across the globe.

“As the report highlights, paper bureaucracy is excessive and aspects of the system focus too much on process rather than on outcomes. This just adds up to excessive costs on industry without any welfare gain.

“The maturity of the Government’s approach to reform is a strong signal to industry that the Government is genuinely interested in recalibrating ESCAS and exploring the role of an industry through-chain assurance system to reduce cost and red tape while maintaining welfare safeguards – something we enthusiastically embrace.”

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For more information on the changes to animal welfare implemented by Australian exporters in export markets, please visit http://localhost/ALEI/site/ and watch the video in the Animal Welfare Quick Links section.

Contact: Simon Crean 0419 881 877
Contact: Alison Penfold 0408 633 026

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