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ALRTA seeks welfare action on live export shipping

Rural transport body calls for ocean segment to step up or doom the trade


The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) has backed moves by the federal agriculture minister David Littleproud to probe the live export supply chain.

Littleproud has instigated a comprehensive review of the capabilities, investigative capacity and culture of the Australian independent regulator for live exports and the establishment of a whistle-blower hotline.
ALRTA’s intervention comes as political and social voices are raised calling for live sheep exports to the Middle East to be banned entirely.

Its national animal welfare committee chair, John Beer, points out that Australian livestock carriers lead the world in protecting the welfare of live animals during road transport and there is no reason why international shippers shouldn’t be held to equally high standards.
“Caring for live cargos is a necessary part of the rural road transport task that is under constant scrutiny by markets, governments and the community,” Beer says.
“The footage shown on 60 Minutes last month demonstrated that current practices, monitoring, reporting and penalties applicable to live export vessels are not always delivering the animal welfare standards expected by the community and the livestock supply chain.
“While official statistics show that the mortality rate of 3.8 per cent on the particular voyage in question was not typical, this is no excuse and more must be done to make sure similar incidents do not occur in future.
“As a first world nation with modern values and an enforceable rule of law, it is important for Australia to play a leading role in improving live export standards.
He argues that 130 countries export livestock, but in establishing the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock and requiring that all exported animals be slaughtered in approved premises, Australia has gone further than any other nation to protect animal welfare. 
But he notes that Asian and Middle Eastern markets simply cannot afford to substitute live imports with chilled boxed meat, nor does Australia have the capacity to supply it.
“We already have some of the world’s best live exporters operating in Australia, so, rather than surrendering the live export trade to less regulated competitors, we must take a hard look at this incident and do what is necessary to lift our standards further,” Beer says.
“Other nations rely on Australia to supply food to their growing populations and our domestic livestock supply chain benefits from international trade.
“In 2017, Australia exported 2.8 million cattle, sheep and goats valued at $1.4 billion. 

“Independent research has shown that saleyard prices for older sheep would be around 18% lower without an export market.
“Live exports support more than 13,000 jobs in Australia, with wages in excess of $1 billion annually, and the vast majority being in rural areas.
“Domestically, Australian livestock carriers are subject to legislated Land Transport Standards.  Even so, our National Animal Welfare Committee has scrutinised our role in the supply chain and championed several important animal welfare initiatives. 
“For example, we have published national guidelines for the safe design of ramps and forcing yards, worked with regulators to establish more flexible driving hours to deal with any animal welfare risk that might arise in transit, merged our TruckCare animal welfare accreditation system with the award winning TruckSafe system, develop a national effluent control strategy and established LivestockAssist – a 24-hour national hotline dedicated to coordinating emergency responses.
“Our association now has a holistic approach to promoting positive animal welfare outcomes that commences with pre-transit livestock preparation, through loading, transport, unloading and emergency responses in the rare event that things go wrong.  We have published our approach in a National Animal Welfare Policy.”
Beer insists the nation should not back away from this problem and leave it to other countries to resolve. 

“Australia must identify the root cause of the issue and lead the way by putting the right type of oversight in place as soon as possible,” he concludes.


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