REGULATORY REFORM UPDATE

Australia’s livestock export industry and the Australian Government are currently working together to identify key inefficiencies within the industry’s regulatory framework and improve administrative processes.

The Livestock Export Program (LEP) undertook a detailed review of regulatory arrangements and focused on developing solutions which create the right incentives for ongoing improvement to exporters’ regulatory and animal welfare performance, while streamlining regulatory costs and administrative oversight. The final report can be found online – LiveCorp

On 11 September 2014, the Minister for Agriculture the Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP announced cuts to red tape for livestock exporters. The Minister announced changes to ESCAS including;

* Separating ESCAS approval from individual consignment approvals
* Adding the option of risk based auditing for compliant supply chains
* Consolidating and improving auditor checklists used to assess compliance with international animal welfare standards.

The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC) has welcomed the administrative changes – ALEC; ESCAS Changes – A Welcome Start.

THE REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

Australia’s livestock exporting industry is heavily regulated. Australian exporters must be licensed by the Australian Government and comply with a range of regulations and standards including the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) and the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL).

The industry is regulated through the Department of Agriculture and governed by Commonwealth Legislation including;

  • Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997 (AMLI Act)
    o Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Export Licensing) Regulations 1998
    o Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Regulations 1998
    o Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Export of Live-stock to Saudi Arabia) Order 2005
  • Export Control Act 1982
    o Export Control (Animals) Order 2004
  • Navigation Act 1912
    o Marine Orders Part 43 Cargo and Handling – Livestock

LICENSING

Australian Exporters must hold a current export license issued by the Australian Government under the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997 and the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Export Licensing) Regulations 1998.

Export vessels must be certified for the carriage of livestock by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and comply with orders of the Navigation Act whereby livestock vessels must be fitted with systems and equipment that ensure desirable welfare outcomes for livestock.

THE EXPORTER SUPPLY CHAIN ASSURANCE SYSTEM

In 2011, the Australian Government introduced a new regulatory framework, the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS).

ESCAS is designed to assure the welfare of exported Australian livestock for feeder and slaughter purposes and is based on four key pillars;

1. Animal Welfare,
2. Control through the supply chain,
3. Traceability through the supply chain, and
4. Independent auditing.

Australian exporters are required to demonstrate compliance with ESCAS, which includes demonstrating compliance with international animal welfare recommendations, control, traceability and independent auditing arrangements, prior to being given clearance to export from the Australian Government.

Animal Welfare

Under ESCAS, Australian exporters must demonstrate that exported livestock will be handled and slaughtered in accordance with animal welfare recommendations of the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE). To do so, Exporters must ensure that an independent audit of each supply chain is complete and that the audit report is provided to the regulator. The independent audit report must confirm compliance with OIE recommendations of animal welfare throughout the entire supply chain.

Control through the Supply Chain

Australian livestock exporters are required to demonstrate control at all points through the supply chain including during transportation, handling and slaughter. Exporters can demonstrate control of a supply chain through ownership of nodes in supply chains of through contractual arrangements with supply chain participants.

Traceability through the Supply Chain

Exporters must be able to demonstrate that all livestock can be traced along the supply chain, right to the point of slaughter. Livestock traceability ensures that animals remain within an approved supply chain and provides assurance that handling and slaughter practises meet OIE recommendations.

Independent Auditing

Independent Auditing requirements under ESCAS are determined by the Federal Department of Agriculture.
There are two types of independent audits and independent audit reports. These are:

  • The Independent Initial Audit Report
  • The Independent Performance Audit Report. This report is submitted to the Department of Agriculture every 4 months and provides assurance that exporters are meeting ESCAS requirements on an on-going basis.

COMPLIANCE

As the industry regulator, the Department of Agriculture is responsible for addressing exporter non-compliance with ESCAS. The Department may receive information about possible non-compliance from the exporter, audit reports or from a third party and undertakes an investigation to determine any necessary regulatory action. This may include requesting information, applying conditions on export consignments, refusing to approve consignments or taking action against the exporter’s license.

The Department publishes the investigations that are currently underway and the completed investigation reports online; Investigations into Regulatory Non-Compliance

ESCAS non-compliance is classified on three levels:
1. Minor;

a. A failure to comply with the approved exporter supply chain assurance system which is not likely to result in systemic failure or reduced ability to meet the control, traceability or animal welfare outcomes.
b. Potential to affect control, traceability or animal welfare outcomes.

2. Major;

a. A failure to comply with the approved exporter supply chain assurance system which is likely to result in systemic failure or materially reduced ability to meet the control, traceability or animal welfare outcomes.
b. A number on minor non-compliances which are likely to result in systemic failure can be considered to be major non-compliance.
c. Likely to affect control, traceability or animal welfare outcomes.

3. Critical;

a. A failure to comply with the approved exporter supply chain assurance system which has led to the control, traceability or animal welfare outcomes not being met.
b. Certain to affect control, traceability or animal welfare outcomes.

THE AUSTRALIAN STANDARD FOR THE EXPORT OF LIVESTOCK

The Australian Standards of the Export of Livestock (ASEL) were developed following an inquiry into livestock export industry in 2003; The Keniry Review. The broad-ranging investigation recommended a range of initiatives to improve animal welfare conditions in the livestock export trade, including that there must be a national standard for livestock exports focused on the health and welfare of the animals during export.

ASEL came into effect in 2004 and sets out whole of chain approach from the on-farm sourcing and preparation of livestock to unloading in the destination country.

There are six standards outlined in ASEL, the first five relate to export of livestock by sea and the sixth standards is specific to export by air. ASEL standards include;

• Sourcing and on-farm preparation of livestock
• Land transport of livestock
• Management of livestock in registered premises
• Vessel preparation and loading
• Onboard management of livestock
• Air transport of livestock.

Under ASEL, exporters must meet statutory reporting requirements during export and after livestock have reached their destination. This includes reporting any notifiable incidents (any incident that has the potential to cause serious harm to the health and welfare of animals) and levels of mortality. The reportable mortality levels on a voyage or air journey are defined under ASEL as the percentages listed below or 3 animals, whichever is the greater number of animals:

• Sheep and goats: 2%
• Cattle and buffalo on a voyage less than 10 days: 0.5%
• Cattle and buffalo on a voyage more than 10 days: 1%
• Camelids: 2%
• Deer: 2%

If an exporter reports a voyage mortality rate greater than the legislated levels (listed above), the Department undertakes an investigation which may result in regulatory action. This information is published the Department’s website, Investigations into Mortalities, and tabled in the Australian Parliament every six months.

The overall mortality rate for exported livestock has decreased significantly over the past decade.

AUSTRALIAN ANIMAL WELFARE LEGISLATION

Australian exporters must also comply witt the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Acts applicable to the jurisdictions in which they operate. These laws apply to all supply chain participates including producers, transport operators, feed-lotters and exporters.

State Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Acts are:

NSW: Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979
VIC: Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986
ACT: Animal Welfare Act 1992
TAS: Animal Welfare Act 1993,  Animal Farming (Registration) Act 1994,  Animal Health Act 1995
QLD: Animal Care and Protection Act 2001
NT: Animal Welfare Act
WA: Animal Welfare Act 2002
SA: Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals Act 1985