Calls for international animal welfare laws in live export, by Shan Goodwin, Farm Weekly, 9 July 2016.

An edited extract of the original article appears below.

THE push for international laws on animal welfare standards is gaining momentum as the extent of the cultural bridge between Australia and its live trade partners becomes more evident.

Reports of Vietnamese abattoir workers lashing out physically at Australians they believe want to destroy their livelihoods has highlighted the dangers of a lack of understanding of different cultures.

Leading agriculture commentators say the aim should be improved welfare standards for all cattle and sheep, not just those from Australia.

Frustrations with one-off breaches to Australia’s world-first assurance scheme need to be tempered with an understanding of the wider animal welfare consequences of Australia ‘pulling out’ of live trade, they argue.

Australian Farm Institute executive director Mick Keogh said Australia’s share of the global live trade had been declining.

Romania, Somalia and other Northern African countries were rapidly taking over what used to be Australian sheep markets and South American and Indian suppliers were moving in on its cattle markets, he said.

“What 99.9 per cent of people in Australia don’t realise is that live exports of animals is growing rapidly as trade barriers come down,” he said.

“If Australia withdraws, the market will source the same livestock from other suppliers and there is no question they have lower animal welfare standards.

“There is no other country that has any of elements of our Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS).

“Indonesia and Vietnam recognise Australia has more reliable and higher quality supply and are therefore willing to accommodate our standards.

“That doesn’t mean people on the ground make sense of them.

“One only has to travel overseas to realise sensibilities around animal welfare are completely different in other cultures.

“It’s an enormous challenge.”

Katherine Teh-White, managing director of Futureye… (said that) Australian exporters had, by default, become responsible for animal welfare in foreign countries which have very different cultures, traditions and religious rights and that created enormous complexities… Still, amazing change was being created…

 

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