Australian livestock exporters demand Egypt action
The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC), the Cattle Council of Australia and the National Farmers’ Federation were responding to recently uncovered video footage filmed in the only two Egyptian abattoirs accredited to import and slaughter Australian cattle, showing abuse of animals by workers. Australia’s livestock export industry voluntarily suspended exports to Egypt after the footage came to light.
The Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) standard, set up following the Indonesian cattle trade suspension in June 2011, aims to ensure that all facilities meet international animal welfare standards. Under the scheme, Australian animals remain the responsibility of the Australian exporter, even after ownership has technically changed hands in foreign countries.
The CEO of the ALEC, Alison Penfold, said in a statement: “We are convinced that these abuses by incompetent individuals can be more directly and effectively controlled under ESCAS, and Australian-led training programs will deliver improved welfare outcomes. We share the concerns of all Australians on cruelty to animals and we are striving to improve global animal welfare. Our goal is zero deliberate animal welfare abuse of any kind, let alone the shocking practices in Egypt.”
However, the move was rejected by the Australian Greens, which accused the ALEC of protecting business interests. “The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council is clutching at straws if it hopes the failed ESCAS system will end the animal welfare abuses witnessed in Egypt,” said senator Lee Rhiannon, the Greens’ spokesperson on animal welfare issues.
“ESCAS is a failed system as the slaughter of livestock cannot be controlled from a desk in Canberra. The Exporters Council is trying to use ESCAS to protect their business interests, when the evidence is clear that it is time to wind up the live export trade and expand the trade in processed meat. That is the way to give the pastoralists and all those associated with the industry certainty.”