The live animal export trade has a unique and essential interface between Australian production expectation and foreign social and cultural norms that must be managed with care and respect.
It is difficult to reconcile a first world attitude to animal welfare and animal husbandry to social and cultural norms in countries. It is also unreasonable to expect quintessentially different customs, beliefs and socioeconomic constraints to comply with detached first world expectations without causing considerable offence.
In relation to live animal exports, Australia implements an exemplary standard of animal care and welfare in relation to the operations conducted within its own jurisdiction. There is simply no incentive for an Australian operator to mistreat animals in their production lines because stressed animals are subject to increase rates of illness and poorer feed conversion efficiencies. In truth there are considerable commercial disincentives for animals to be mistreated long before there is any consideration or regard to regulation. A happy animal is a healthy animal and a productive animal.
CountryMinded is acutely aware of the link between social stability and the provision of adequate amounts of safe affordable food. While Australia does not regard this level of food security as a current domestic concern, it is a far greater issue in other parts of the world. Live animal exports play a key role in the supply of affordable protein in key markets.
The live animal export industry and in particular the live cattle trade to Indonesia is very important for Australia’s national security considerations now and more importantly into the future. The maintenance of this trade is of national importance and it is essential that the trade can operate with confidence.
No one, especially producers want to see animals mistreated at any time. Australia must act to help destination countries improve animal welfare standards where possible with regard to improving the economic performance of the animals, improving human health and safety outcomes and improving public perceptions around the Australia’s commitment to supply the local demand.
It is unacceptable to simply shut a live export market based on a destination country’s apparent non-compliance with Australia’s animal welfare standards. Such bans undermine political stability in the destination country, undermine investment confidence in Australia and harm Australian producers unfairly.
The domestic implications of suspending live exports are immediate financial hardship to the producers and exporters, devaluation of properties associated with the trade, increased environmental pressure due to forced overstocking, increased hardship for animals due to longer road freight and or feed shortages, depressed domestic animal prices due to oversupply and the associated economic downturn for all involved.
CountryMinded is committed to the live animal trade both for its economic contribution to agriculture in Australia and for its key role in grass roots diplomacy in destination countries.
In this context the CountryMinded endorses the Export Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS) as an appropriate mechanism to protect the integrity of the industry.