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What are health protocols in the livestock export trade?

What are health protocols?

Health protocols are agreements between importing and exporting country governments which set out the agreed requirements that will apply to ongoing trade. Such agreements exist across commodities, including for the livestock export trade.

For livestock exports, health protocols focus on animal health and include the conditions under which animals will be permitted entry into an importing country. So just like Australia manages biosecurity for imported products, importing countries do the same for our exports.

The conditions in agreed health protocols aim to reflect the relative animal health and disease status of the importing and exporting countries, and Australia’s excellent animal health status and systems are vital in providing the assurances that underpin workable health protocols.

All of the conditions included in an agreed health protocol must be certified by the Australian Government for each export in an official health certificate, attached to the export documentation.

To ensure accurate certification, the language of the protocol must be clear, unambiguous, achievable and related to animal health. For trade to occur, protocols must also be commercially viable.

What are common elements of a protocol?

Not all protocols are the same and depend upon the importing country’s own disease status and animal health priorities.

Some common elements included in protocols are:-

– Disease freedom (country, zone and property)

– Residency (on-farm, in Australia or in a zone)

– Testing (e.g for disease)

– Quarantine periods

– Treatments (eg parasites, ticks)

– Vaccinations

– Individual animal inspection (eg for infectious diseases and injury)

How are health protocols negotiated?

Protocols are negotiated by the Australian Government with the government of the importing country. In Australia it is the Department of Agriculture’s Animal Biosecurity Team that undertakes the technical and official negotiations. In most cases, industry through the MLA/LiveCorp Live Export Program provides technical advice, information and support to the negotiations.

Australia has negotiated some 100 protocols for the livestock export trade.

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