The livestock export industry is a valuable Australian industry that is worth over $800 million each year and supports the livelihood of many people in rural and regional Australia.
Australia exports livestock to more than 60 countries. Our most important trading partners include Indonesia, China, Israel, Malaysia, the Philippines, Turkey, Japan, Russia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Jordan.
The Australian Government has a responsibility to ensure that exporters maintain high standards of animal welfare throughout the export chain, for the sake of the exported livestock, and for the sake of the farmers, exporters and communities who rely on livestock exports for their livelihood.
The introduction in July 2011 of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS), first for export of feeder and slaughter cattle to Indonesia, and later extended to all feeder and slaughter livestock to all destinations, is the most significant reform the export livestock industry has ever seen. ESCAS gives transparency and accountability to how exported livestock are treated, starting from the farm, and extending to slaughter in the importing country. ESCAS is also a system that can identify where a problem exists, and address it directly.
The introduction of ESCAS means that Australia’s commitment to the humane treatment of its exported livestock does not stop the moment they are unloaded from an export vessel. Australia is the only country of more than 100 countries that export livestock that requires its exporters to achieve specific animal welfare outcomes for exported livestock in the importing country.
Australia has now exported more than three million livestock under ESCAS, including more than two million sheep during 2012–13.
Livestock exporters must also comply with the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock.
The Australian Government has memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with a number of countries in the Middle East and Africa, and negotiations continue with other trading partners. MoUs reinforce importing country commitment to international animal welfare standards and provide government-to-government assurances that Australian livestock will be unloaded on arrival, regardless of the results of initial animal health inspection.
To support improvements in animal welfare, the Australian Government provides $1 million a year to the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy, which supports Australia’s work in partnership with other countries to improve animal welfare around the world. Australia is an active member of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and strongly supports OIE activities on animal welfare.
The Australian Government has also allocated $10 million over four years (2011–12 to 2014–15) of aid funding to support improved animal welfare outcomes in official development assistance in eligible countries that import feeder and slaughter livestock from Australia.
The Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997 requires that the department send a report to parliament every six months on mortalities for livestock exported by sea. These reports, and other reports on the department's website, show that voyage mortality rates have fallen considerably since the year 2000.
More information on the history of the trade and reviews.