- IMPROVING WELFARE
- ENSURING CONFORMANCE
- STRENGTHENING ESCAS
In 2011, the Australian Government introduced a new regulatory framework for the live export industry that covers the entire export supply chain in overseas market places from the point of disembarkation to the point of slaughter. The Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) places the responsibility on Australian exporters to maintain control and traceability of livestock and to ensure measurable animal welfare outcomes in-market.
Recognising the Farmer Review's recommendation
Coinciding with this, the Australian Government commissioned an independent review of the livestock export trade. The review, undertaken by Mr Bill Farmer AO, recommended that industry explore the application of quality assurance (QA) through the supply chain back on-farm to complement the Government’s regulatory compliance program, ESCAS.
Recognising this recommendation and the need for greater assurance regarding animal welfare, the Australian livestock export industry initiated foundation research in 2012 into the role QA and risk assessment may have in assisting exporters demonstrate compliance with ESCAS. A number of recommendations stemmed from this research, primarily: That a QA program complemented by a risk assessment component be developed to support the live export industry in aspiring to best practice and achieving ESCAS compliance.
Governance and guidance
The outcomes from the foundation research formed the basis of a research project initiated in 2014 and funded through the Livestock Export Program (LEP) which is a joint research and development (R&D) partnership between the Australian Government, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and LiveCorp.
This research project focused on the development and piloting of such a program and was awarded by competitive tender to a seven-person Project Team of subject matter experts operating in consultation with an Industry-Government Consultative Committee and supplemented with extensive consultation.
Development and trial
Under this research project, a fully implementable conformity assessment and certification Program to assist exporters in demonstrating compliance with ESCAS was developed and successfully trialled in three major export markets as well as in Australia. In February 2015, this Program became known as the Livestock Global Assurance Program (LGAP).
LGAP has been designed to provide assurances that animals continue to be treated in accordance with the ESCAS Animal Welfare Standards for Australian livestock from discharge up to and including the point of slaughter in-market.
LGAP is not self-regulation. Rather, LGAP improves upon the ESCAS regulatory framework for livestock exported from Australia covering animal welfare from discharge in-market to the point of slaughter. the Program has been developed to strengthen the assurance sought through ESCAS by strengthening the commitment, oversight and management of welfare along the supply chain while also encouraging continual improvement and the attainment of best practice.
The outcomes of the research project which consists of the Program components such as the Standards and Rules, along with all supporting materials and resources, were provided to MLA and LiveCorp in March 2016.