WAFarmers has welcomed the recommendations made from the Federal Government review into live sheep exports which will see major improvements to the industry.
WAFarmers President Tony York said the changes to the monitoring, measurement and stocking rate guidelines will ensure meaningful changes to improve the welfare of the animals being shipped within the trade.
“We welcome and encourage the reviews to the regulatory bodies and welcome the transparency this will bring so that the welfare outcomes that we all desire can be realised and continually improved,” he said.
“The ability to continue to supply sheep to the Middle Eastern market is vital to the sustainability of the regional WA economy.
“Further, the continuation of the trade will help gather and qualify historic live export data in new studies, using new technology to ensure and maximise improvement is a double win.
“The McCarthy Review recommends new formulas which will see stocking densities drop by almost 30 per cent over the hotter months, which will result in export companies having to work out the repercussions for their own operations, though it may also lead to some efficiency gains and higher care levels in order to make every animal count.
“The report also takes into account scientific evidence that demonstrates the importance of the trade, and we hope that this will help any politicians who are intending to introduce bills to ban the live sheep trade will take into account the scientific findings.
“The Government’s support of all recommendations is pleasing, and better still, any conditional support goes further in progressing additional scientific work to quantify the benefits that can be seen by animal welfare promoting activities.”
Mr York said any ban on live export would have a detrimental impact on producers, their families and communities, and said WAFarmers was very pleased that Dr McCarthy had recognised this.
“WAFarmers, its members and the wider farming community demand that animal welfare is at the forefront of every live export discussion, and considers the animals, people, families and communities involved,” he said.
“We are pleased that Dr McCarthy has created a new model which will require exporters to analyse and improve ventilation and airflow.
“We also welcome the recommendations regarding the closure of a loophole that sees older ships held to different standards, as this will see an overall improvement in the fleet used to carry Australian sheep to their destination ports.
“We look to the McCarthy Review recommendations to guide the industry along a pathway that sees continual improvement of all aspects of the industry for the future of summertime live sheep exports into the northern hemisphere.
“WAFarmers will analyse the details of all recommendations provided by Dr McCarthy so that all of industry can fully understand the requirements on each individual part of the supply chain.”
Mr York said the introduction of legislation to appropriately punish exporters found not be upholding animal welfare trading activities and breaking Australian export rules, including those around stocking densities, was welcomed by producers.
“Producers want to see exporters held accountable and appropriately punished if they knowingly breach animal welfare regulations and expectations,” he said.
“Our customers rely on a year-round trade and will look elsewhere for a supply if they are forced to.
“This shift in thinking and accountability is a major change that needs to result in a cultural move from what has been ‘acceptable’ to a new level of welfare that does all it can to meet the expectation of the Australian and international communities.
“We are extremely fortunate to be granted an opportunity to improve this whole trade. WAFarmers is under no illusion this is possibly the last chance a live sheep export trade has to prove it can and will change its ways.”
Key take-away messages from the recommendations:
* Welfare improvement is at the heart of all recommendations.
* Ability to perform studies and qualify known data whilst trade continues.
* Recognition of the trade to the economy and welfare of regional WA and other suppliers.
* Fleet improvement though regulations regarding vessel ages and abilities.
* Airflow and quality to be audited by independent experts for standards maintenance.