Sheep Producers Australia welcomed the recommendations of the Moss Review, in particular strengthening the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to be an effective regulator of the live sheep export trade.
President Allan Piggott says it is essential the department is adequately resourced and uses its authority to ensure the trade follows best practice animal welfare standards, based on the best available scientific evidence.
“Sheep producers are unwavering in their commitment to the highest animal welfare standards domestically and we expect that this commitment extends to the export of sheep as well. There can be no excuses for poor animal husbandry from anyone involved in the sheep industry,” Mr Piggott said.
“For this reason, SPA supports the Moss Review and its recommendations and welcomes the establishment of the Office of the Independent Inspector-General of Live Animal Exports.
“The department needs to be well resourced to ensure it has the ability, capacity and culture to regulate effectively with staff who understand and have an empathy for the agricultural sector, such as Australia’s role in providing a food supply to other nations.
“If there is an additional cost in providing regulation of the trade, which the department was supposed to be delivering in the first place, then it needs to cover that cost. Any additional costs to comply will fall on the trade, which will flow back to producers, as is evidenced by the fact they are currently already receiving lower prices for stock.
“SPA expects to work closely with Federal Government to ensure the new independent office provides real and practical solutions for the trade, rather than being heavy-handed or bureaucratic. We need to better enforce the world leading and best practice standards that already exist, rather than increase regulation, and ensure the cultural change which has already started in the trade continues and is upheld.”
Mr Piggott said SPA had called for full transparency in the live sheep trade from the very start and was pleased that the McCarthy Review and the Moss Review were starting to deliver this for producers and the wider Australian community.
“We know the Australian community wants sheep to be well treated, as do producers, and an independent system which provides confidence is critical for the trade to rebuild trust,” he said.
“Producers also need to have confidence in the systems in place to ensure mistreatment does not happen again are effective and are monitored and enforced. We need to know that breaches will be investigated and, where failures have been found to occur, penalties are enforced.
“SPA continues to want to fix the trade because the reality is a strong live sheep export industry supports strong rural communities, especially in Western Australia. We cannot ignore that there are people’s livelihoods which depend on getting this right.
“We thank the Federal Government for its commitment to follow through on the reviews it established and to work towards a science and evidence-based solution. With implementation of the McCarthy and Moss recommendations, sheep producers will feel more confident the regulatory system that underpins the live trade is rigorous and based on best practice.”