Livestock Exporters Instigate Bans in Malaysia

Goats at an approved Mosque, September 2016.

By MarEx 2016-10-17 06:18:31

Australia livestock exporters have endorsed market suspensions on Malaysian importers and facilities which have failed to meet animal welfare, control and traceability standards during the annual Korban festival period in September.

Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council CEO Simon Westaway commended Australian exporters with Malaysian supply chains for working proactively on the suspensions in support of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS).

A number of facilities have already been suspended, and further sanctions are likely and could include industry action in accordance with the Malaysia ESCAS Control and Traceability Agreement, which came into effect in June 2016.

In recent years, Australia’s livestock export trade has undergone significant change. The impact of shock footage of traditional slaughter practices in Indonesia released in 2011 on the Australian public, transformed the industry almost overnight. Subsequently, the ESCAS regulatory regime was introduced.

Under ESCAS exporters must ensure livestock traceability throughout the entire supply chain. This ensures that livestock remain within an approved supply chain and provides assurance that the subsequent handling and slaughter of animals is accordance with international animal welfare recommendations.

Australian livestock must not be sold outside of approved supply chains and cannot be purchased for home slaughter or for slaughter at facilities that have not been approved as meeting international animal welfare standards.

Australia is the only livestock exporting nation which regulates animal welfare standards throughout the entire supply chain, right through to the point of slaughter in overseas markets. Additionally, of more than one hundred countries exporting livestock around the world, Australia is also the only country investing in delivering animal welfare skills to people working in offshore livestock supply chains.

“Poor welfare outcomes are never condoned nor excused by exporters,” said Westaway.

“As shown in the past month, not only in Malaysia for Korban but in the Middle East during Eid al Adha, transparency and accountability are important at all times in our industry and absolutely pivotal when problems in the supply chain are detected.”

Westaway said exporters were cooperating with Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) in its investigations regarding supply chain leakages.

“Our message to the Malaysian supply chain is very simple. Just as Australian exporters must treat their ESCAS compliance obligations as absolute non-negotiables, our Malaysian partners and customers must do the same,” he said.

Westaway said the action demonstrated Australian livestock exporters’ readiness to act as a united industry in the best interests of ongoing, sustainable trade in overseas markets.

“The long-term sustainability of any livestock export market is compromised whenever Australia’s conditions for animal welfare, control and traceability are not adhered to,” he said.

“Australian exporters and our ESCAS-approved customers are heavily invested in animal welfare, control and traceability in our overseas supply chains throughout the year, not just around busy festival periods,” he said.

“The presence of animal welfare personnel and other industry representatives in countries like Malaysia enables exporters to constantly monitor supply chains, report ESCAS compliance concerns to DAWR as they arise and provide ongoing training and advice to livestock handlers.”

Westaway said exporters were reviewing their supply chains following the Islamic festival period and would continue to implement measures that prevent Australian livestock from being removed from approved supply chains. 

Corrective actions implemented by exporters include independent auditing, the provision of additional training to facility staff, the suspension of supply chains and the appointment of animal welfare officers to oversee livestock control, traceability and welfare.

The live export industry contributes an average of $2 billion in export earnings annually to the Australian economy.