Livestock supply chain could be better

Meat & Livestock Australia Chairman Don Heatley says more must be done to improve the livestock export supply chain

Livestock supply chain could be better
Livestock supply chain could be better

By Anna Game-Lopata | June 3, 2011

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) Chairman and north Queensland cattle producer Don Heatley says more must be done to improve the livestock export supply chain

He was speaking following
shocking examples of animal cruelty depicted on the ABC’s Four Corners program this week.

"As a cattle producer, like all producers in Australia, I found the Animals Australia footage highly distressing," Heatly says.

"It is completely unacceptable that any animal could be treated in this way."

Heatley says MLA, on behalf of Australia's producers and alongside LiveCorp and Government, has been working to improve the treatment of our animals in Indonesia.

"Significant improvements have been made in the shipping and feedlotting of our animals in Indonesia, however our efforts at the point of processing have clearly been unsuccessful in some facilities and we need to do more."

MLA supports the Australian Government's action to suspend the supply of Australian cattle to those facilities where cruel practices have been identified.

"Having worked in the market, we are confident that the footage shown is not representative of the manner in which the majority of Australian animals are processed in Indonesia."

Heatley says the industry is urgently investigating every avenue to ensure that all Australian cattle in Indonesia are handled in line with the expectations of the Australian beef industry and the community.

"We support additional measures such as the introduction of controlled systems that will only receive Australian cattle where appropriate welfare standards can be guaranteed.

"As part of this process we are committed to the accelerated use of stunning devices.

"Industry organisations will fully support the Government's investigation into the practices shown in the recent footage.

"For our efforts to be completely effective, we need the strong support of Australian and Indonesian authorities to improve and enforce animal welfare standards.

"We must do everything in our power to get this right. This industry is vital to Australia's rural and regional communities and the livelihood of beef producers across Australia, who will not tolerate cruelty to their animals."

Heatley says Indonesian trading partners are committed to the organisation’s recently launched action plan.

This commits to only supplying Australian livestock to facilities where supply chains meet or exceed the relevant sections of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) animal welfare standards.

"Our deadline for meeting this goal is 2015, however we will be working hard to achieve this as early as possible," Heatley says.

"This is an ambitious plan that will enable our industry to have tighter management of animal welfare outcomes in our overseas markets.

"It will deliver a system to identify, monitor and address welfare requirements through the implementation of endorsed livestock welfare standards."

LiveCorp CEO Cameron Hall says the strategy will support and enhance the industry’s investment in a range of programs designed to improve animal welfare in the markets where Australia supplies livestock.

"It again demonstrates that the industry is committed to implementing lasting animal welfare improvements in our key livestock export markets.

"We are the only country in the world investing in animal welfare in our overseas markets."

The live cattle trade is vital to cattle producers and regional communities, particularly in the north of Australia.
The trade is also important to indigenous communities.

Cattle Council of Australia CEO David Inall says Indonesia is the most important market for many of our northern producers and the type of cattle produced in the north are well suited to that market.

"We also know that demand from Indonesia helps to underpin cattle prices right across the country," Inall says.

"Over time we have developed a sophisticated supply chain from Australian producers to Indonesian feedlots so this initiative launched today will further develop that relationship."

The value of the Australian livestock export industry exceeded A$1 billion for the second year running in 2010, delivering $1.012 billion in export revenue to the Australian economy.

More than 500,000 cattle are exported to Indonesian markets each year.

Shipments usually exit Darwin, Broome and Wyndham in Western Australia.

The Northern Territory cattle industry generates more than $400 million directly and $800 million indirectly for the Territory economy.

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