THE decision by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to direct two Australian livestock exporters to cease supply to Vietnam until effective measures have been put in place to address animal control, traceability and verification processes is a clear demonstration of the Department’s regulatory oversight and powers of control over the exporters activities. (See the Department’s statement here).
The suspension of an exporters’ ESCAS supply chain is a serious and disruptive regulatory action and can have a significant commercial impact on business. Exporters’ businesses have undergone revolutionary change and expansion of responsibilities as a result of the implementation of ESCAS and the services required to deliver ‘line of sight” oversight of animal welfare in cooperation with customers.
As ALEC has stated on a number of previous occasions, exporters take their regulatory requirements very seriously and if individual exporters, feedlot or abattoir systems have faltered in detecting in-market breaches, then they must be sanctioned in a manner that effectively deals with any problems and provides a pathway for improvement. ALEC trusts that the Department will move quickly to reinstate market access as soon as the affected exporters can demonstrate effective control, traceability and verification processes.
ALEC will continue to engage with the Department to ensure that any issues arising from the Departmental audits of exporters’ implementation of the industry’s control and traceability standards are well understood and any issues arising are analysed and addressed.
Meanwhile, ALEC has also noted the Department’s decision to cancel the export licence of Frontier International Agri as part of its investigations into the export of a consignment of 300 cattle to Japan.
This decision reflects a very serious exercising of the Department’s livestock export oversight and control powers. We fully comprehend the gravity of the situation and the very specific consequences for the exporter and staff.
ALEC is seeking a more comprehensive explanation from the Department to enable our members to fully analyse and absorb any lessons arising from the ruling, including the application and interpretation of the laws governing the trade.