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Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry : Animal welfare reforms to cover 100% of Australia's livestock trade

12/31/2012 | 03:24pm US/Eastern

31 December 2012

The world's most stringent live export regulations will apply to all exports of Australian livestock for slaughter from tomorrow.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, said Australian exporters will have to meet Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) requirements in all existing and new live export markets.

The introduction of ESCAS to the third and final tranche of live export markets on 1 January is on schedule and in line with the Government's commitment to reform the trade and forge a strong future for the jobs and communities it supports.

"From tomorrow, one hundred percent of Australia's live feeder and slaughter export markets will be covered by the Governments reforms, cementing Australia's reputation as a world leader in animal welfare," Minister Ludwig said.

"The introduction of ESCAS across our entire live export trade means exporters will be required to ensure all animals exported for slaughter purposes are treated in line with international standards.

"That means better animal welfare outcomes as well as a sustainable long term future for the billion-dollar-a-year livestock trade and the livelihoods that rely on it."

ESCAS strictly regulates the treatment of livestock and sets a benchmark that requires exporters to take responsibility for the welfare of animals throughout their supply chain.

Before an export company is granted permission to ship livestock for slaughter purposes overseas, it must demonstrate livestock will be treated at, or better than, internationally recognised animal welfare standards.

"ESCAS ensures transparency in the live export trade. The Government can hold exporters to account for the welfare of the livestock, and take action if required," Minister Ludwig said.

"The blanket introduction of ESCAS from New Year's day sends a strong message about how the Australian industry and community expects exported livestock to be treated now and into the future.

"We have made important progress since these reforms were first introduced. Our ongoing involvement in the trade gives us an important opportunity to help improve animal welfare in importing countries".

Since the introduction of ESCAS, over 1.3 million sheep, 530,000 cattle and 11,000 goats have been exported.

Regular publishing of the independent audit report information on the Government's website allows all Australians to see how the industry is performing. Following the implementation of the new ESCAS regulations in Indonesia in July 2011, ESCAS has been introduced in three tranches throughout 2012. The first on 1 March saw 75% of the trade covered, and the second from 1 September saw 99% of the trade covered.

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