AUSTRALIA – The Australian Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has announced today that it will suspend all exports of live cattle to Indonesia, until new safeguards are established for the trade.
Minister Joe Ludwig said he had ordered a complete suspension of all livestock exports to Indonesia for the purposes of slaughter.
It has been eight days since ABC Four Corners published horrifying footage of the treatment of animals going to slaughter in Indonesia. The footage has caused outrage amongst the beef industry, animal welfare groups and the general public.
The suspension will be in place until the Government establishes sufficient safeguards to ensure there is verifiable and transparent supply chain assurance up to and including the point of slaughter for every consignment that leaves Australia.
“A sustainable live cattle export industry must be built on the ability to safeguard the welfare of the animals,” he said.
This decision was made following serious consideration of advice and evidence presented to the government since last Monday.
As I previously announced, an independent reviewer will be appointed to undertake a complete supply chain review of the live export trade for all markets,” Minister Ludwig said.
The independent reviewer will now also inform both the design and application of the new safeguards.
Minister Ludwig said the Indonesian and Australian governments have agreed to work closely together, and with industry, to bring about improvements in practices in abattoirs and to make this important trade sustainable in the longer term.
Whilst animal welfare groups welcome the news, the Cattle Council of Australia is keen to work with the government to resume trade as soon as possible.
“We will seek an urgent meeting with the Minister to develop and implement the type of supply chain assurance he has sought for the trade to recommence,” David Inall, CEO, Cattle Council of Australia said.
The Australian livestock industry has said that it understands the reasons behind the Australian Government’s decision to temporarily suspend the live cattle trade to Indonesia until a controlled system that will assure the welfare of Australian cattle exported to Indonesia has been implemented.
The industry is now working on delivering a “controlled system”. Under the proposed system, the industry has said it will commit to trading with a core group of facilities in Indonesia, which are independently accredited to meet OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) animal welfare standards.
On top of this the plan is for animal welfare officers to be permanently stationed at the accredited processing facilities, but arguably most importantly, the industry hopes to rapidly increase the use of stunning in as many facilities as possible.
Meat and Livestock Association Chairman Don Heatley said the suspension of the trade will most certainly have an impact on cattle producers and communities in the north and this needs to be acknowledged.
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