​​Media Release

Live export reform targets areas of greatest risk

24 March 2015

New reforms to the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) will provide stronger assurance for the welfare of exported animals through increased audit requirements for facilities that fail to meet required standards, while saving industry almost $2 million in regulatory burden.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said new auditing requirements would apply a risk-based approach to determine the frequency of audits for facilities in ESCAS supply chains.

“The recent report into Australia’s live export assurance system demonstrated that Australian livestock exported overseas are treated humanely in almost every instance and in accordance with international animal welfare standards,” Minister Joyce said.

“The government is now introducing changes to the audit system designed to recognise strong performance and increase the scrutiny of higher risk facilities.

“Facilities in the live animal export supply chain with a higher risk or a history of poor-performance will now be subject to an increased number of audits, while the number of audits conducted for facilities with a record of good performance may be reduced.”

Minister Joyce said that all facilities of the same type were currently subjected to the same number of audits per year regardless of their performance.

“Under the new system, supply chain facilities will be assessed as low, medium or high risk to determine audit frequency,” Minister Joyce said.

“Low risk facilities will require audits at a minimum rate of once per year, medium risk facilities will require audits twice a year, while high risk facilities will require audits four times a year – raised from the previous maximum of three for any given facility.

“A risk-based approach to ESCAS auditing will allow auditors to focus on areas of greater risk, and will also encourage exporters to use facilities with a good record of compliance.

“It will also result in approximately 30 per cent fewer facility audits in the first year, estimated to reduce industry’s audit costs by almost $2 million.”

The Department of Agriculture has also revised the guidance documents for use by exporters and auditors, which will reduce administrative burden and costs and result in more consistent assessments of facilities and supply chains.

“Through ESCAS, we know that more than 900 facilities across 19 countries now meet the World Organisation for Animal Health recommendations for animal welfare. Each one has been checked by independent internationally recognised auditors,” Minister Joyce said.

“The Australian livestock industry invests over $7 million a year to improve animal welfare and have trained more than 7000 people in overseas markets in better animal handling and slaughter practices.

“This government will continue to focus on improving not only animal welfare outcomes but also the regulation of the Australian livestock export trade by reducing the regulatory burden on exporters and removing unnecessary red tape.

“The Australian Government remains committed to the live export industry and the returns that it delivers to the national economy, to local communities and to families back at the farmgate.”

The revised risk-based ESCAS auditing requirements are scheduled to come into effect on 1 April 2015.​​