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Australia's livestock export industry is committed to working with the Federal Minister for Agriculture, the Australian Government and our trading partners to deliver world class animal welfare outcomes for Australian livestock in all export markets.

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The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council, the Cattle Council of Australia and the National Farmers’ Federation are writing to the Government to stress the importance of Australia's livestock export trade and the immediate actions taken by the sector to address the situation in Egypt and continuously improve international animal welfare standards.

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Egypt

Footage of extreme animal cruelty and inhumane animal handling in two Egyptian facilities was brought to the attention of Australia’s livestock and livestock export sectors on 3 May 2013, and was broadcast on ABC’s 7:30 Report on 6 May 2013.

We have been shocked and deeply distressed by the footage and the outrageous cruelty has left us disgusted and horrified. No one in our sector, and no Australian, accepts such treatment of animals. Although this is now under investigation by the Australian and Egyptian authorities, we understand that the cattle are Australian cattle, and we are dismayed by their cruel and callous treatment. We have acted immediately by placing a voluntary suspension on the export of cattle to the two facilities in Egypt (the only two that receive Australian cattle) until there is evidence that practices and procedures comply with international animal welfare guidelines.

The welfare of animals is of paramount concern to the Australian red meat, livestock and livestock export industries, and our main concern now is ensuring the welfare of the 3,000 Australian cattle that remain in these facilities in Egypt. We are working closely with the Egyptian operators of these facilities to address the welfare issues immediately. We are also focused on finding longer-term solutions to rectify the situation in Egypt.

On Monday 6 May, the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council, the Cattle Council of Australia and the National Farmers’ Federation asked the Australian Government to absorb the Egyptian livestock export trade into Australia’s animal welfare regulatory framework, the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS). Under the existing arrangement, Egypt is the only country that receives Australian livestock that is outside the ESCAS system – operating under a Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian and Egyptian governments. We believe it is now time to bring Egypt under ESCAS also, providing greater certainty, accountability and transparency in upholding international animal welfare standards.

Through the implementation of ESCAS in Asia and the Middle East, significant improvements in animal welfare have been made in facilities across Australia’s livestock export markets. Under ESCAS, all facilities that are approved by the Federal Government to receive Australian animals are regularly monitored to ensure the agreed standards of animal welfare are maintained. As always, we remain committed to improving international animal welfare standards, and continue to work with the Federal Government and through the international animal welfare agency, OIE, to achieve continuous improvements.

For more, read the joint Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council, the Cattle Council of Australia and the National Farmers’ Federation statements regarding Egypt:

Our commitment to animal welfare

In light of this focus on livestock exports, we wish to reiterate that ensuring the continuous improvement in animal welfare for Australian livestock is the key commitment of industry.

This is why the industry is working with the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Hon. Joe Ludwig, to deliver world lass animal welfare outcomes for Australian livestock in all livestock export markets. The industry continues to work closely with the Federal Government to implement the new regulatory system for livestock exports, the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS). For more information on ESCAS, view this fact sheet.

With this in mind, we are obviously disappointed that the Egypt incident obscures the improvements that have been made in facilities across our markets in Asia and the Middle East though the implementation of the new animal welfare regulatory regime and industry investment in training, education and infrastructure.

Australia is the only country, of the more than 100 countries across the world that export livestock, that actively works in overseas markets to help improve animal welfare conditions. If Australia was to stop exporting livestock, global animal welfare standards will unquestionably decline.

Facts about livestock exports

Fact: If Australia was to stop exporting livestock, animal welfare conditions in overseas countries would decline.
Australia is the only country in the world that actively works in overseas markets to improve animal welfare conditions. We are also the only country in the world that attempts to regulate livestock exports, all the way from Australian farms to feedlots and abattoirs overseas. Our producer levy funds millions of dollars worth of training, education, research and development to improve animal welfare conditions during voyages and in overseas markets. If we were to stop exporting livestock, animal welfare conditions overseas would decline.

Fact: Boxed and chilled meat exports cannot replace livestock exports.
Many countries prefer live animals over boxed or chilled meat. This is often due to the challenge of transporting, storing and refrigerating meat, or due to cultural, religious and financial reasons. If Australia was to stop exporting live animals, the gap would not be filled by Australian chilled or boxed meat, but rather from live animals from other countries.

In 2007, for instance, Australia could not meet the Middle East’s demand for live animals, so animals were imported from Sudan, Somalia and Iran – countries that do not share Australia’s commitment to animal welfare, and critically, may also pose animal disease risks. Boxed and chilled meat exports cannot replace livestock exports.

Fact: The livestock export industry supports thousands of Australian jobs & is helping to provide protein to some of the world’s poorest people.
The Australian livestock export industry provides 13,000 jobs, including 11,000 in rural areas, to Australian workers and in some parts of Australia, is the entire backbone of the community and economy. The supply of Australian livestock also ensures hundreds of thousands of households across Asia and the Middle East have access to essential and affordable protein.

These countries do not have the resources or geography to efficiently produce livestock to feed their people, and Australia is able to meet this demand through livestock exports. The Federal Government has just released its Asian Century White Paper, which shows Australia has an important role to play in providing food to Asia’s growing population – and livestock exports can be part of the food solution.

For more facts about livestock exports, view the industry fact sheet.