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Livestock industry committed to animal welfare

5 November 2012

The Australian livestock industry is united in their condemnation of the cruel and inhumane treatment of Australian sheep, unnecessarily culled in Pakistan, as seen tonight on ABC’s Four Corners.

The conditions under which this cull of healthy Australian sheep was performed are extremely distressing and appalling, which is why the livestock export industry has already taken decisive action to voluntarily suspend exports of sheep to Pakistan and Bahrain.

The incident in Pakistan was unprecedented and occurred under exceptional circumstances, and a full investigation is currently being undertaken by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Most importantly, the welfare of animals is of paramount concern to the Australian livestock production and export industries. Australia is the only country, of the more than 100 countries across the world that export livestock, which actively works in overseas markets to help improve animal welfare conditions. If Australia was to stop exporting livestock, global animal welfare standards would unquestionably decline.

Significant animal welfare improvements have been made in approved facilities across Australia’s livestock export markets in Asia and the Middle East though the implementation of the new animal welfare regulatory regime – the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) – which now covers 99 percent of Australia’s livestock exports and will cover 100 percent by the end of 2012. We continue to work with the Australian Government on delivering animal welfare outcomes through the ESCAS system established by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and his Department.

The supply of Australian livestock ensures hundreds of thousands of households across Asia and the Middle East have access to essential and affordable protein. This was highlighted by the Federal Government’s Asian Century White Paper, which showed Australia’s important role in providing food to Asia’s growing population. We strongly believe that the livestock export industry is a critical element of this.

The livestock export industry also plays a vital role in supporting jobs throughout regional Australia – particularly in the northern and western parts of the country. The livestock export industry contributes 13,000 jobs, including more than 11,000 jobs in rural and regional Australia, and wages and salaries totaling almost $1 billion annually.

It is important that Australia continues to be a part of the live export trade, continuing in its role as a world leader in the delivery of positive animal welfare outcomes at the same time as delivering jobs, prosperity and growth in communities across the country.

PRESS CONFERENCE: NFF President Jock Laurie, ALEC Chairman Peter Kane and CEO Alison Penfold and SCA President Ian McColl will hold a joint press conference in the Senate Courtyard at Parliament House, 10am, Tuesday 6 November.

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