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  • 02 Nov 2012 11:53 AM | Anonymous
    Capital city rallies against live exports drew crowds of hundreds, rather than thousands, over the weekend.

    The Opposition's Agriculture spokesman John Cobb says those numbers could reflect what he believes is a growing understanding that Australia is a 'force for good' in international animal welfare.

    He says people will always be rightly concerned about the proper and humane treatment of animals, and Australia is helping to improve that treatment around the world.

  • 22 May 2011 11:43 AM | Anonymous
    Broadcast: 22/05/2011 1:49:37 PM
    Reporter: Kerry Lonergan

    ANNE KRUGER, PRESENTER: Australian farmers have been defending their right to export live animals virtually since the trade began.

    You may remember when former prime minister Malcolm Fraser and then NFF boss Ian McLachlan stared down union threats over sheep shipments to the Middle East in the 1980s.

    The argument back then was based more on the impact on jobs in the meat processing sector.

    More recently, the opposition has come from animal rights groups who argue the trade is unnecessarily cruel. And every so often they supply the mainstream media with unsettling images of the way some overseas customers handle Australian export sheep and cattle.

    They are about to step up their campaign with fresh material gathered in Indonesia, one of Australia's biggest live export markets.

    This weekend, the industry has released its new global strategy following an independent review that is aimed at convincing end-users to lift their game.

    Kerry Lonergan reports.
    KERRY LONGERGAN, REPORTER: It's a billion-dollar-a-year business. The live trade out of the north is critical to the economy across the top of Australia and beyond.

    Much of the country from Kununurra to the Barclay Tableland is suitable only for cattle grazing.

    So with virtually no processing facilities from Townsville right around to Perth, there are no options - it's export or close down.

    CAMERON HALL, LIVECORP: So many people in remote and regional communities in northern Australia rely on the live trade - as some, or many, as their only source of income, and their only market, but others for a very significant part of their income.

    So the impact would be massive. We know that the live trade adds 7.8, nearly 8 cents a kilo to all cattle sold across Australia whether they are going into the live trade or not.

    KERRY LONGERGAN: So what's the problem?
    The weights issue with Indonesia is something the industry has always felt would be resolved eventually. The problem is lifting certain animal welfare standards in Indonesia.

    Last year the industry, with support from Canberra, commissioned an independent report to check on welfare standards for Australian cattle sent to Indonesia and recommended improvements.

    The panel, which included vets, feed lot and abattoir experts from Australia and the UK, had as its baseline the internationally recognised OIE or World Organisation for Animal Health standards.

    Of course, the live trade is not just about cattle and not just about Indonesia. The live sheep trade already has experience with OIE standards.

    Sheep exporters to the Middle East were given a pull through after the Cormo Express incident several years ago. The subsequent inquiry led to a massive injection of industry training money into the Middle East.

    RON CULLEN, SHEEPMEAT COUNCIL: We think we have done a pretty good job in terms of changing animal welfare in the marketplace, and that is why we moved to developing these action plans for each specific market, and that will set some more measurable objectives.

    I think, if anything, the lesson we learn is, that we have not been able to demonstrate in an objective way the improvements we have been making. So these action plans will hopefully do that for us.

    And we've got people over in the Middle East, right now, who are talking to both importers and government officials about how we'll get those action plans under way.

    KERRY LONGERGAN: Now, Ron Cullen, could the live trade to the north learn anything from the sheep exporters?

    RON CULLEN: I guess we'd like to think we both learn from each other and we've had a combined approach, in terms of developing these action plans. And industry needs to be sure that we're all aiming for OIE standards - the World Health Organization for Animals.

    Those standards are the sort of standards we ought to be able to meet in all of our marketplaces.

    So the action plans we will develop will be about having an idea of the whole chain system, so that each bit of the chain from discharge through to processing meets OIE standards.

    KERRY LONGERGAN: The report on the Indonesian trade, which is publicly available - there will be a link to the report on the Landline website - included several ticks and neutral comments with recommendations. Almost inevitably, the panel was critical of certain practices within
    Indonesian abattoirs.

    DR PAUL CUSACK, REVIEW PANEL MEMBER: Our greatest concern with processing was an instance where multiple cuts were required to sever the carotid arteries. Once the carotid arteries are severed at the point of processing, then the animal loses consciousness very quickly.

    So that's an issue that we identified. And the recommendation is that there be further training given to improve the skill, or the speed with which that single cut is administered. And that is as simple as having the correct equipment, sharp knives and a good approach and a good technique.

    KERRY LONGERGAN: Two issues emerge here, the obvious one is training.

    AUSTRALIAN TRAINER (Landline 2010): Because in Indonesia it is very hot, when they get sick with diarrhoea, like this one, they become dehydrated, so then they can't fight the bacterial infection that is coming.
    (Severely emaciated sheep in stock pen)

    ROHAN SULLIVAN, NY CATTEMENS' ASSOCIATION: Well, I think it will be given major priority. As you're probably aware, Kerry, the review looked right through the market chain in Indonesia.

    The main things that were found were that the animal welfare was found to be generally good throughout the chain, except for the last little bit, which is at the point of processing. And that is where most of the effort has got to be made into the future.

    KERRY LONGERGAN: And it's that point of processing which is, and will remain, the key issue in the live trade.

    As Cameron Hall, LiveCorp CEO, acknowledges, it's not simply a matter of telling Indonesian meat workers the correct procedure. Unlike Australia there are other factors.

    CAMERON HALL: Look, I think the Indonesian people... The Indonesians have a long history, if you like, with animals and with processing. But they are - the Indonesian people are not cruel people.

    The Indonesian people want to make change and want to improve things, and we have seen that, you know, quite significantly over the past five years - right at an industry level, at the facilities themselves, and also with the Indonesian government.

    KERRY LONGERGAN: It is partly also cultural and religious. Is this part of the reason why they don't stun them, often, before they are slaughtered?

    CAMERON HALL: The stunning issue is a complex issue. And, it's, I guess, it is a sensitive issue around three areas, cultural, religious and even legal.

    We've been promoting stunning with the Indonesian industry and the Indonesian government over the last five years. And there is stunning in place in some facilities in Indonesia. And we're working at the moment to increase that number and we will, by the end of the year, have more
    facilities stunning. But, stunning is slow in its uptake and until recently, in many areas, it had been illegal to even have the equipment.

    KERRY LONGERGAN: So is it possible to have animals that are stunned killed, and be confirmed as halal?

    CAMERON HALL: Yes. Animals, even in Australia, are stunned and confirmed halal. But it is around working with the local religious authorities in Indonesia, which we are doing on an ongoing basis, and ensuring that they understand the science, and that the stunning process meets the religious beliefs.

    KERRY LONGERGAN: One of the leading importers of Australian cattle is Dicky Adiwoso. He's an Australian-educated vet, with firm views on the animal welfare issue within his own country. It must lift, he says, to world standards.

    DICKY ADIWOSO, LIVESTOCK IMPORTER: Animal welfare is something that we have to the values we have to impose on the people who are taking care of the animals. From the time that it's born until the end of their life, that we have to take care of them. It's not the- people are looking at it differently at the beginning and here, and then we have to change our values, how we to do it in other countries.

    We have to look at what is the global values of animal welfare, which we are trying to impose and bring the value.

    KERRY LONGERGAN: Now, as mentioned, the export of Australian sheep to the Middle East has had its animal welfare issues.

    But with the shorter distances, a very low shipping mortality rate, and the fact that cattle are generally tougher than sheep, the live trade to the north has, by and large, escaped sanctions for animal welfare issues.

    But given the nature of animal rights activism these days, and given the economic importance of the trade, what might happen if, for whatever reason, the trade was stopped?

    ROHAN SULLIVAN: Well, I think after we have picked ourselves up off the floor, it would be a disaster for our industry - well, for me personally, for my family personally, and I think would be a disaster for rural people in northern Australia.

    Total turn off from the territory is about 600,000 head a year and there is about 300,000 head that goes to live export, and most of that to Indonesia.
    So it is an absolutely vital part of our industry and, you know, on a personal level, for my own family property, it's nearly 100 per cent of our turnoff goes to live exports. So without the live export trade we'd be finished, basically.

    KERRY LONGERGAN: So with this review, which clearly points to 'unacceptable by Australian standards' processing routines in some Indonesian meat works, what's next? Cameron Hall says, more training for Indonesian meat workers is on the schedule, but training is just part of a much bigger agenda. I

    CAMERON HALL: I think it's part of the answer. There is a whole range of aspects that need to work well together. We are still talking about Indonesia that is a developing economy, and they don't have as much investment into facilities, they don't have as much infrastructure. Many of the facilities don't have power or coal chain, or all of those sorts of things.
    So there's a - I guess there is a broad range of things. But we know that at the point of processing - which is our most difficult area - we know that when the training is properly adopted and those people have the skills, that the welfare improvements are significant.

    KERRY LONGERGAN: Now according to LiveCorp, the industry will be allocating up to $1 million a year for training and other animal welfare issues in Indonesia. This is a crucial part of the action plan for improved animal welfare conditions in all export markets, and follows the success of similar programs in the Middle East.

    One final note on this story for the moment at least, Landline has been told that the activist group Animals Australia has video of Australian cattle being processed in Indonesia. We asked for a copy of that video, and we asked Animals Australia for comment. Both requests were declined.

    Here is the link to the MLA Indonesian Live Export Report:
    http://www.mla.com.au/About-the-red-meat-industry/Livestock-exports


  • 08 Mar 2008 11:40 AM | Anonymous
    By Cameron Hall, CEO, LiveCorp (Australia)

    March 2008


    Recently, the WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals) and the CIWV (Compassion in World Farming) launched a campaign called Handle with Care. Their campaign is focused on what they see as cruel treatment of animals being transported for slaughter.

    The global trade of live animals moving to slaughter is “big business” according to this report, and they also state that this transportation is “…clear evidence of the welfare, food safety and meat quality problems it causes.” The WSPA and CIWF point out specific commodities and lane segments including Pigs transported from Canada to Hawaii; Cattle from Brazil to Lebanon; Horses from Spain to Italy; Sheep from Australia to the Middle East; Goats from Colombia to South America; as well as Chickens spreading Bird Flu in Thailand.

    The report has quite a few flaws (in the opinion of most AATA members) and we asked the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Cameron Hall of LiveCorp in Australia (an AATA member) to help us address some of misleading statements of their report. LiveCorp is the industry services organisation for the Australian livestock export industry for shipments by sea and air to all markets that Australia services. The main tasks of LiveCorp relate to market and trade access, in-market technical advice, training and education, R&D, management of relationships with key stakeholders including government both in Australia and overseas and most importantly the continual improvement of animal welfare management across the chain before, during and after shipment. Mr. Hall is very knowledgeable and his company has worked diligently to improve the transport process, as well as investing heavily in training all groups involved in the movements. We posed the following questions to Mr. Hall.

    1. Are the complaints of the campaign justified?

    No. Everyone involved in the Australian livestock export industry cares deeply about animal welfare - from the farms where our animals are raised, to the ships they are transported on and the overseas countries where they are sold.

    The fact is that animal rights extremists continue to ignore the facts about the livestock export industry, which are detailed below.

    Many livestock exporters, haulers, forwarders, etc. are members of the Animal Transportation Association (AATA) and are dedicated to improving the welfare of animals in transport. Only unlicensed and unscrupulous companies are engaged in this type of abuse, but you cannot paint the entire industry with one broad stroke. It’s important to know that there are a great many of us working to ensure proper policies are in place to prevent these unscrupulous companies from continuing to wreak havoc on this industry.

    2. How widespread are such abuses?

    The Australian livestock export industry does not tolerate any form of animal abuse.

    The industry is one of the most highly regulated in the world, and is subject to strict regulatory requirements developed to ensure the wellbeing of Australian animals exported to overseas markets.

    Australia is also recognised as having the world’s best standards for livestock export, with the industry committed to providing the highest standards of care for the animals we export overseas.

    All livestock vessels transporting livestock from Australia are clean, modern and operate under the highest standards in the world. Australian animals are well cared for onboard these vessels, having enough room to move around, lie down and access the constantly available food and water. Each vessel also has ‘hospital pens’ to provide extra care for any animals that need it. In addition, the industry employs trained and accredited stockmen to accompany all voyages, and AQIS-accredited veterinarians to accompany all voyages to the Middle East.

    Once Australian animals arrive at their destination they are held in feedlots where they have constant access to cool fresh water, nutritious feed and shade. They are cared for by stockmen trained by the Australian livestock export industry on how to best care for Australian animals.

    Most of these animals are then transported to processing facilities on trucks driven by drivers that have been trained to ensure a smooth ride for our animals. Other animals are transported to local markets where they are sold to communities and families that do not have access to refrigeration to store chilled meat. If it weren’t for Australian livestock, these families would have no access to affordable red meat protein.

    Australia also invests heavily in improving standards of animal care in the countries we export to, in particular countries throughout the Middle East. This work is detailed below.

    Additionally, countries such as the United States, Canada, Mexico and others work hard to instil good policy and good training / techniques to ensure animals are handled and transported humanely. There are many AATA members who are devoted to improving the welfare of the slaughter animals while in transport or at the farm.

    3. What progress has been achieved in recent years?

    The Australian livestock export industry recognises the importance of research and development in improving its standards and practices, and invests A$1.6 million each year in a comprehensive range of R&D projects which range from studies onboard livestock vessels to research on animal care once Australian animals arrive overseas.

    Animal welfare is an over-arching consideration in the industry’s R&D program. In 2006-07, 41% of the R&D budget was spent on livestock management and welfare. In 2007/08 this is planned to increase to 52%.

    R&D has been a major contributor to achieving improved export success rates, which now exceed 99% of all animals exported. Success rates have improved consistently over the past ten years due to industry’s high level of investment, as well as its commitment to continuous improvement. This commitment continues today, with industry striving to ensure its success rates increase each year.

    Key outcomes delivered over the past five years as a result of R&D also include minimising the risk of heat stress onboard ships; minimising the risks of disease during livestock export; and developing a best practice guide for veterinary drugs during livestock export.

    Industry also invests both money and human resources into improving animal welfare outcomes in the countries we export to, particularly in the Middle East, and we are seeing real improvements from this work. A $1.75-2 million is invested into programs supporting the improvement of animal welfare in the livestock export process chain.

    The Australian animal welfare specialists employed by industry in the Middle East region provide practical training to veterinarians, stockmen, feedlot operators on how to work with Australian animals. These representatives travel to each importing country in the Middle East to work with people on the ground.

    Industry also funds and implements upgrades to infrastructure, such as feedlots, abattoirs and port facilities, in the Middle East and Asia and establishes joint initiatives with local governments in these regions to improve animal welfare. In addition, industry also provides regular inspection and assessment of facilities including ships, ports, trucks, abattoirs and feedlots, as well as assisting with the unloading of Australian animals from vessels.

    This investment and training is delivering real improvements including:

    - An improved understanding among stockmen, feedlot operators and others throughout the supply chain of how to work with Australian sheep, which are not domesticated like local Middle Eastern sheep and therefore need to be handled differently.

    - Improvements in the way animals are being handled while being unloaded from ships, leading to shorter unloading times so that sheep are in feedlots with feed and water much quicker than previously. This improved rate is a direct consequence of teaching local stockmen techniques to work with the animal’s natural behaviour, providing a more efficient and less stressful process for the animals.

    - Improvements in feedlot management including access to cool water, feed, and shaded pens. For example, in Doha industry facilitated the implementation of water chilling facilities to ensure sheep had constant access to cool water. Industry also advised and assisted in changing the feedlot’s infrastructure to replace solid walls with rails, increasing airflow through the feedlot.

    While these improvements are very positive, industry acknowledges that there is still more to be done to improve animal handling practices and is committed to continuing its involvement in the region to make long term improvements.

    4. Does it make economic or ethical sense to end the trade in live animals?

    Absolutely not. A cessation of the trade would have disastrous effects both ethically and economically.

    Ethically
    Australia is the only country that invests in improving animal welfare standards in the countries we export to, and our training activities in the Middle East are playing an important part in improving global animal welfare standards.

    As a developed nation we have a duty of care to help less developed nations improve their awareness and commitment to the importance of animal welfare. Walking away from the trade now undefined as activists are demanding undefined would mean turning our backs on this responsibility.

    Claims made by activists that Australia should walk away from the trade and replace it with the chilled meat trade are short-sighted and unrealistic, as explained in the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) report on live animal exports released in Australian on 27 February 2008.

    According to the report "any restrictions on this trade from Australia are expected to have an adverse impact on the industry as the importing countries would source livestock from competing markets rather than substantially altering their demand for beef, veal or sheep meat."

    As the report confirmed, if Australia stopped supplying livestock to the Middle East, the trade would not be replaced by the chilled trade. Instead, livestock would be sourced from other countries undefined such as Sudan, Somalia and Iran undefined that do not share Australia’s commitment to animal welfare, and global standards would suffer. We are part of the animal welfare solution. If we are not involved in the trade, we are simply powerless bystanders.

    Economically
    The Australian livestock export industry is an integral part of the national cattle and sheep industries, contributing A$1.8 billion to the Australian economy each year and employing 13,000 Australians.

    An independent report completed by Hassall and Associates in 2006 titled “The Live Export Industry: Value, Outlook and Contribution to the economy” found that a closure of the livestock export trade in cattle and sheep would cause an ongoing reduction in the GVP (Gross Value of Production) of Australia’s sheep and beef cattle industries in the order of $550 million per annum. This loss is a 6% reduction in the gross value of the entire cattle and sheep meat industries (ABS 2005).

    Further, many regions that benefit from the livestock export trade do not have ready access to alternative markets for livestock, and any reduction in the trade would impact directly on farm income.

    A further independent report commissioned by Meat & Livestock Australia and LiveCorp and released in August 2007 undefined Assessing the Value of the Livestock Export Industry to Regional Australia undefined examined the five regions most reliant on the industry undefined the Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria and the northern and southern regions of Western Australia.

    The Report found that during 2006 the industry contributed $0.83 billion to regional economies and generated employment for over 11,000 Australians in these areas, underpinning the economic activity and social wellbeing of large slices of rural and remote Australia.

    Employment figures include farming families, indigenous landowners, exporters, stockmen, road transport providers, dockside workers and other service providers such as veterinarians and fodder suppliers. A closure of the trade would have a devastating effect on everyone involved in the trade.

    Conclusion by AATA President, Lisa Schoppa:

    It’s important to note that many of these animal rights’ campaigns are based on isolated incidents that are over dramatized and sensationalized to feed on the sensitivity of the public. Many of these campaigns are not about improving animal welfare but about raising funds and awareness of the groups involved. The public needs to be more discerning about the facts and understand the whole issue. The benefits, both ethically and economically, to the general public are of great value.

    While the AATA has great respect for the organizations involved in this campaign, we would call on them to address the evidence factually and not through the use of sensationalized videos that serve to scare the general public and not educate. We urge the WSPA and CIWF to join us and work with us throughout the world to effect real change in policy and in how animals are transported and handled, and to hold our AATA members as models of how to transport animals, regardless of the mode of transport.
  • 07 Mar 2008 11:35 AM | Anonymous
    ONCE again, the shipping industry and its suppliers are taking a beating. This time from animal rights campaigners over livestock transport, a business worth billions of dollars.

    More than 1m live animals are transported every week, so it would be surprising if there were no abuses, but the mainstream industry insists the trade is carried out in the most caring way possible.

    To shed more light on this, one of the issues that arouses most passion in the general public over the behaviour of shipping and related industries, Lloyd’s List enlisted more information on both sides of the row, in which the talking is blunt.

    A reinvigorated rights lobby claims: “In the time it takes you to read this sentence, thousands of animals will begin cruel and unnecessary journeys round the globe.”

    The Handle With Care group, a coalition of animal welfare groups, shot undercover video footage claiming to show what it fears may be typical ill-treatment of live cargoes. It argues that, as it is 125 years since the New Zealand ship Dunedin initiated the trade in frozen meat, these days “no animal should suffer the cruelty of long distance transport, just to be slaughtered at the journey’s end”.

    Launching a well-publicised campaign, members of the group, some dressed in rather cute white Friesian cow costumes, took their battle bus to Trafalgar Square and other prime locations to spread their filmed evidence and collect signatures petitioning for a ban on the trade.

    Just as implacable in defence of what is said to be a largely responsible trade are ship operators, airlines, insurers, livestock exporters and importers, government agencies, and many veterinarians.

    The issue is an especially hot topic in Australia, the leading exporter of live animals, and the government of Kevin Rudd has promised to monitor the trade and work hard to improve animal welfare.

    But what is the truth? If only, like Doctor Dolittle, we could talk to the animals, and then pigs and cattle, sheep, horses and chicks could join in our debate.

    Claims of stress and exhaustion

    LONG distance transport of animals is “beyond cruelty and beyond reason”, according to the Handle With Care animal welfare coalition of campaigners who have demanded action to curb the “cruel and unnecessary” shipment of millions of live animals around the world for slaughter, writes James Brewer.

    The group includes the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Compassion in World Farming and the World Society for the Protection of Animals, and its campaign is particularly targeted at Brazil, Australia, the US, Spain, the UK and Italy.

    Campaigners want stricter labelling to help consumers choose meat from animals slaughtered close to where they are reared, and pressure put on countries such as Australia that ship massive numbers of animals abroad each year.

    Although strongly disputed by industry opponents, the coalition alleges that 8%-10% of animals die in the shipping process. They spend 16-18 days at sea, bruising and breaking bones, en route from Australia to Beirut, for example, to be killed at destination.

    Animals are said to be subject to stress and exhaustion, rough handling, hunger and thirst, extreme temperatures and unsanitary conditions.

    “We already have the technology to transport fresh chilled and frozen meat, and the science to prove the welfare benefits of local, humane slaughter,” argues the campaign. It has been claimed that transport of live animals saved on the cost of refrigeration, but a lot more meat equivalent could be packed into containers. The campaign points out that 85% of all Australian abattoirs now have a halal licence.

    “Thousands of animals die en route from disease, heat exhaustion, hunger and stress. The others escape the intolerable conditions only to confront, immediately, the butcher’s knife.”

    A secretly shot video released by the campaign “reveals the horror of five particularly gruesome journeys”. Australia, the world’s largest exporter of live animals, sends more than 4m live sheep every year to the Middle East.

    Shipped in cramped, poorly lit dens, the journey takes 32 days. Three sheep are crammed per square metre in the ship’s hold, causing many of the animals to die of suffocation before arriving at their destination.

    Those sheep that do arrive are fattened before being killed in accordance with Halal butchery laws.

    “Animals are shipped from one side of the world to the other for slaughter so that producers can charge higher prices by fraudulently claiming the meat was locally sourced,” the campaign argues.

    Human health is also said to be at risk because animals can help spread deadly diseases such as bird flu.

    Handle With Care has identified four of what it describes as the worst routes:
    • Sheep from Australia to the Middle East. “More than 30,000 die annually on the journey which can take three weeks.”
    • Cattle from Brazil to Lebanon. “Cattle can spend three to four days without food and water on road transporters before arriving at the port for shipment. They are herded into overcrowded holds where 10% will die during the 18-day sea journey.
    • Horses from Spain to Italy. Some 100,000 horses are transported every year to Italy where they are slaughtered for food. “Lorries are supposed to transport about 16-18 horses at a time in individual stalls but often 25-30 are packed in for distressing journeys.”
    • Pigs from Canada to Hawaii. “Pigs reared in extremely low temperatures in Alberta are moved on overcrowded trucks to California before being shipped to Hawaii. Forced to endure extreme temperatures lying in their own waste, many die from stress during the seven-day journey. Those that survive are then slaughtered and their meat sold as ‘Island Produced Pork’.”
    The coalition says campaigns in the 1990s led to a huge fall in the number of live animals sent for export from the UK. In 1995, 2m sheep and lambs and 500,000 calves were exported. By 2007 the numbers had tumbled to 80,000 sheep and lambs and 70,000 calves. The coalition is demanding a stricter enforcement of EU laws governing the live transport of animals and hopes existing laws will be strengthened when they come up for review in 2009.

    Isolated incidents are not the norm

    “THE trade is not cruel and industry condemns any cruelty, without reservation,” insists Lisa Schoppa, president-elect of the Animal Transportation Association, writes James Brewer.

    The association was founded in 1976 in response to the concerns of industry leaders, government officials and humane association representatives. Its overriding aim is to encourage organisations to develop best practice for animal transport.

    A pamphlet aimed at dispelling ‘myths’ declares: “It is certainly not in the interests of exporters for animals to be mistreated or to die in transit.

    “Exporters are paid on total live weight or total number of animals discharged from a vessel at port of destination. It is in the exporters’ interest to ensure that all stock paid for prior to embarkation in Australia are in the same, if not better, condition when delivered. Animals onboard ship are well cared for. The animal housing section of livestock ships must conform to very detailed specifications laid down in Marine Orders undefined Part 43, the controlling order of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.”

    Any voyage with “higher than acceptable” mortalities is fully investigated by the authorities.

    According to Livecorp, the industry body owned and funded through contributions by livestock exporters, complaints from Handle With Care are completely unjustified.

    “It is important to note that many of these animal rights campaigns are based on isolated incidents that are over-dramatised and sensationalised to feed on the sensitivity of the public,” Livecorp says.

    “Many of these campaigns are not about improving animal welfare but about raising funds. The public needs to be more discerning about the facts and understand the whole issue. The benefits, both ethically and economically, to the general public are of great value.

    “While the ATA has great respect for the organisations involved in this campaign, we would call on them to address the evidence factually and not through the use of sensationalised videos that serve to scare the general public and not educate.

    “We urge our partners to join us and work with us throughout the world to effect real change in policy and in how animals are transported and handled.”

    A healthy animal travelling in a safe and comfortable environment with adequate food and water supplies also poses a significantly lower risk to underwriters providing cover against the event of death in transit.

    For this reason, when underwriting a transport risk, insurers will take great care in ensuring that reputable shippers are used, high animal welfare standards are adhered to and that, among other aspects, suitable and appropriate equipment is available, correct licensing has been obtained and handlers with adequate expertise and experience in transporting the type of animal or animals being insured are involved.

    “As a company, we have a vested interest in the transportation of animals to high standards of animal welfare, not only as our personal preference, but also as the best risk management tool,” explains Crowe Livestock Underwriting’s assistant underwriter, Suzy Stennett, who has recently been elected onto the board of directors at ATA.

    “Only unlicensed and unscrupulous companies are engaged in this type of abuse, but you cannot paint the entire industry with one broad stroke. It is important to know that there are a great many of us working to ensure proper policies are in place to prevent these unscrupulous companies from continuing to wreak havoc on this industry.”

    The industry is one of the most highly regulated in the world, argues Livecorp, and it is subject to strict regulatory requirements developed to ensure the well-being of Australian animals exported to overseas markets.

    Australia has the world’s best standards for livestock export, and the industry insists it is committed to providing the highest standards of care for animals exported overseas.

    According to LiveCorp, all vessels transporting livestock from Australia are clean, modern and operate under the highest standards in the world. Australian animals are well cared for onboard these vessels, having enough room to move around and lie down, and access the constantly available food and water. Each vessel also has ‘hospital pens to provide extra care for any animals that need it. In addition, theindustry employs trained and accredited stockmen to accompany all voyages, and Australian Quarantine & Inspection Service-accredited veterinarians to accompany all voyages to the Middle East.

    Once Australian animals arrive at their destination they are held in feedlots where they have constant access to cool fresh water, nutritious feed and shade. They are cared for by stockmen trained by the Australian livestock export industry on how to best care for Australian animals.

    Most of these animals are then transported to processing facilities on quality trucks, driven by drivers who have been trained to ensure a smooth ride for. Other animals are transported to local markets where they are sold to communities and families that do not have access to refrigeration to store chilled meat.

    If it were not for Australian livestock, these families would have no access to affordable red meat protein.

    The Australian livestock export industry highlights the importance of research and development in improving its standards and practices, and invests A$1.4m ($129,000) each year in a range of R&D projects.

    In 2006-2007, 41% of the R&D budget was spent on livestock management and welfare. In 2007-2008 this is planned to increase to 52%.

    Key outcomes delivered over the past five yearsas a result of R&D also include minimising the risk of heat stress onboard ships, minimising the risks of disease during livestock export and developing a best practice guide for veterinary drugs during livestock export.

    Industry also invests both money and human resources into improving animal welfare outcomes in the countries it exports to, particularly in the Middle East.

    Industry funds and implements upgrades to infrastructure, such as feedlots, abattoirs and port facilities in the Middle East and Asia, and establishes joint initiatives with local governments in these regions to improve animal welfare. In addition, industry also provides regular inspection and assessment of facilities including ships, ports, trucks, abattoirs and feedlots, as well as assisting with the unloading of Australian animals from vessels.

    Claims made by activists that Australia should walk away from the trade and replace it with the chilled meat trade are short-sighted and unrealistic, according to a report by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics on live animal exports released in Australia on 27 February 2008.

    According to the report “any restrictions on this trade from Australia are expected to have an adverse impact on the industry as the importing countries would source livestock from competing markets rather than substantially altering their demand for beef, veal or sheep meat”.

    As the report confirmed, if Australia stopped supplying livestock to the Middle East it would not be replaced by the chilled trade. Instead, livestock would be sourced from other countries - such as Sudan, Somalia and Iran - that do not share Australia’s commitment to animal welfare, and global standards would suffer. “We are part of the animal welfare solution. If we are not involved in the trade, we are simply powerless bystanders.”

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    This article is copyright Informa and is reproduced with permission. Reproduction, retrieval, copying or transmission of this article is not permitted without the publisher's prior consent. Informa does not guarantee the accuracy of the information contained in this article nor does it accept responsibility for errors or omissions or their consequences.

    This article appeared in Lloyd's List on March 28 2007. For more information visit www.lloydslist.com
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