Structure of the Industry
KEY PLAYERS IN THE LIVE ANIMAL TRADE
The major players in the live animal export trade vary considerably in their interest and roles. Some are, for example like AMSA, (Australian Marine Safety Authority), only interested in ensuring that the Navigation Act 1912, Marine Orders Part 43 are followed, however, most of the other industry organisations have a vested interest in the outcomes of live animal exports including Liveship, which represents the interests of the livestock carriers (i.e. shipowners).
Below is an excerpt taken from the Keniry report which explains how the live animal export trade operates. For anyone not sure how the trade works and would like to know more, or indeed for anyone who is not aware of who is responsible for which area of the trade this information is for you.
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7 Structure of the industry
The current structure of the red meat industry (primarily cattle, sheep and goats), of which
the livestock export industry is a part, was introduced in 1998 by the red meat and
livestock industry reforms. These were designed to give greater responsibility to the
industry itself and to minimise the involvement of government in its activities. Concepts of
self-determination and self-regulation underpinned the reforms, which at the same time
sought to ensure appropriate representation, governance and accountability for its activities
through the new industry structures.
The key elements of these reforms were the establishment of the Red Meat Advisory
Council (RMAC) and a new producer-owned service delivery company, Meat & Livestock
The RMAC was established as an industry forum of six peak industry councils: Cattle
Council of Australia, Sheepmeat Council of Australia, Australian Lot Feeders' Association,
Australian Livestock Exporters' Council, Australian Meat Council and the National Meat
Association of Australia. Its role was to advise the Government on whole-of-industry
matters, including industry multi-sector policy and strategic matters. The Goat Industry
Council of Australia maintains a link with RMAC, but is not a member.
MLA was established as the marketing and research provider company for the red meat
industry. It provides programs and services to the livestock export industry and other
industry sectors. However, unlike the funding from producer groups who pay compulsory
levies, livestock exporters and meat producers make voluntary contributions to support
Livestock exporters and meat processors established separate voluntary funded companies
(Livecorp Ltd and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation Ltd respectively) with
compulsory levies reduced to zero, although the Government retained the power to raise
these if industry failed to collect sufficient funds to finance agreed collective activities with
Livecorp (the Australian Livestock Export Corporation Limited) is fully owned by
Australian livestock exporters through the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council
(ALEC). It is responsible for identifying and supporting research and development
initiatives in the interests of livestock exporters, developing and administering industry
standards, accrediting livestock exporters against those standards, and providing training
Livestock Export Review 2003
18ഊfor people in the industry. It administers the Livestock Export Accreditation Program
(LEAP), which is the livestock export industry self-regulatory Quality Assurance Program.
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AUSMEAT was established as a joint venture company, funded equally by MLA and
AMPC to provide auditing services against industry standards and relevant codes of
practice, to maintain a universal trading language for meat and livestock and to develop
and implement quality assurance systems for the industry.
A Memorandum of Understanding was agreed between the various industry sectors,
industry-established companies and the Government to achieve cooperation in the overall
interests of the red meat industry.
Figure 6 sets out the red meat industry structure showing the relationship among the
companies, organisations and government.
Figure 6 – The red meat industry structure showing the relationship among companies,
organisations and government.
In addition to the companies established at that time,
there are a number of other industry
organisations that have an interest in the outcomes of livestock exports
which represents the interests of the livestock carriers (i.e. shipowners).
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8 Policy and regulatory oversight of the livestock export industry
Policy responsibilities and formal regulatory oversight of the livestock
export industry is a
shared arrangement between Australian Government and State and Territory
States and Territories have responsibility for matters of production,
transport of the animals, while the Australian Government has responsibility
for the actual
export of the animals.
At the Australian Government level, the activities of the livestock export
primarily come within the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) portfolio.
The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is advised by a non-statutory
committee, the National Consultative Committee on Animal Welfare (NCCAW),
national implications of welfare issues affecting livestock, wild animals
and animals used
in research and for recreation; and the effectiveness and appropriateness
of national codes
of practice, policies, guidelines and legislation to safeguard or further
the welfare of
animals and protect the national interest.
Within DAFF, a number of business units have responsibility for
aspects of the livestock
export trade. One of these, Market Access and Biosecurity, is responsible
the health requirements which importing countries want the Australian
Another, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS), administers
primary pieces of Commonwealth legislation governing the industry:
the Australian Meat
and Live-stock Industry Act 1997 (AMLI Act) and the Export Control
The AMLI Act requires all livestock exporters to have a licence before
they are eligible to
apply for an export permit for a specific consignment of animals. To
be eligible for a
licence, an exporter, among other things, must be accredited by Livecorp
and must allow
Livecorp to audit their quality assurance systems for managing the
export of livestock.
As at November 2003, there were 83 livestock exporters accredited
by Livecorp who were
licensed under the AMLI Act. Of the 83 licensed exporters, 51 held
full accreditation and
32 held provisional accreditation from Livecorp, although all are able
to export. Of the 83
licensed exporters, 77 were accredited to export by both air and sea,
with just six exporters
holding air-only accreditation.
Under the AMLI Act, AQIS has power to place conditions on licences.
For example, it has
used this power to prevent the export of certain animals at particular
times of the year, or to
prohibit export altogether; and it is through this power that all trade
to Saudi Arabia is
The Export Control Act 1982, and specifically
Control (Animals) Orders,
requires a licensed exporter to meet a range of other criteria before
being issued with an
export permit. These criteria largely relate to whether the health
and welfare of the animals
can be assured in the export process and whether they meet the specifications
of the importing country. Whether the animals meet these criteria is
a judgement of an AQIS
veterinarian who must issue the export permit. This decision
is largely based on
documentation presented by a ‘third party’ veterinarian, employed
by the exporter, who is
responsible for preparing the animals for export and presenting
documentation to the AQIS
veterinarian to assure him/her that all requirements have been met.
veterinarians are not recognised in the legislation and are
solely responsible to their
employer, the exporter. The AQIS veterinarian reviews the documentation
the animals before deciding whether to issue the export permit.
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Under the Export Control (Animals) Orders AQIS
has power to place conditions on export
permits. For example, it has recently used this power to require exporters
veterinarians on shipments to the Middle East, and to have those veterinarians
report to it
on the condition of the animals during the journey.
Issues relating to the welfare of animals on board ship, during an
export journey, come
within the responsibility of AMSA, which administers the Navigation
Act 1912 and Part 43
of the Australian Commonwealth Marine Orders. These contain provisions
relating to ship
design, fodder and water supplies, the number of animals that may be
carried and their
stocking density, and the design and arrangement of pens and care of
livestock on board.
AMSA’s requirements already lead the world in ship design for livestock
enhancements to the AMSA standards, proposed for introduction
in 2006, will mean that
many ships currently in the trade will be retired. This should leave
a more modern and
efficient fleet available for use in the Australian export trade.
The Marine Orders also contain the specific provisions for ‘reportable’ mortality
(i.e. the level of mortalities on ships that must be
reported to AMSA). This means DAFF
and AQIS rely on AMSA for official information on mortalities, which
adds to the
complexity of the regulatory arrangements for identifying breaches
and applying sanctions.
Since 2001, the Saudi Live Export Program (SLEP) has also required
employed by the exporter travel on each shipment of sheep and
goats to Saudi Arabia and
report on the condition of the animals on board. Following the extended
closure of the
Saudi trade in the early 1990s for alleged significant non-compliances
requirements, SLEP was introduced as an industry quality assurance
program to ensure
that industry, Australian Government and importing country specifications
are fully met in
relation to the export of sheep and goats to Saudi Arabia. SLEP sets
requirements to those in the Australian Live Export Standards that
must be met by
The limitation of SLEP is that, apart from being supported by
an AMLI Order that prevents
export of sheep and goats to Saudi Arabia other than by exporters specifically
by Livecorp for that country, it is not specifically referenced in
official documentation with
the importing country and Australian sanctions for breach of its provisions
reside with the
industry. Livecorp monitors compliance with SLEP requirements and has
advising AQIS if there is a breach of SLEP requirements. However up
until July 2003 it
has never advised any breach, although some veterinarians who accompanied
had reported their concerns with some aspects of the voyage.
A full list of the Commonwealth legislation governing the livestock
export industry is at Appendix 5.
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State and Territory governments also have a range of responsibilities for aspects of the livestock trade. These relate to matters of general animal health and welfare, production, feedlots and holding yards and transportation of the animals to the ports of loading. However, State and Territory governments are not required to assure Australian Government authorities that their requirements have been met prior to export.
The Animal Welfare Unit in West Australia and in other states the RSPCA or DPI also has formal responsibilities in relation to livestock exports. It is responsible under the States and Territory Prevention of Cruelty to Animals legislation, for enforcing prevention of cruelty to animals within their areas of responsibility.
9 Codes of practice in the livestock export industry
The Model Codes are used by the States and Territories to develop their own codes and to set standards which can be prescribed and enforced by legislation. In establishing the content of codes it should be made clear that industry representation always outweigh representation by animal welfare advocates to the point that improvements on existing codes is rarely achieved.
The codes are also intended to provide a basis for animal welfare standards in industry quality assurance programs, such as Livecorp’s Livestock Export Accreditation Program (LEAP). The Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock require that those involved in exporting live animals shall also comply with State Codes.
A list of the six current Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) relevant to the preparation and transportation of sheep, cattle and goats for export is here. (link to ASEL). Appendix 6 contains links to relevant Codes of Practice.
During 2008 and 2009 the Federal Government contracted an industry organisation; Animal Health Australia to develop the Standards and Guidelines for animal in transport. These ‘rules’ will cover all animals except companion animals and their aim is to provide a set of laws upon which all states agree thereby establishing one set of transport laws for the whole of Australia. The group involved consisted mainly of industry and government (who’s role is to support industry) with two animal welfare advocates groups represented. Essentially, the group was weighted heavily in favour of industry, and of course decisions were made on votes counted.
It is planned that the Standards and Guidelines for transporting animals will be adopted in each state in 2010. There are 2 deciding factors as to the effectiveness of the Standards and Guidelines for transporting animals. Education of the industry plays a major part with any new legislation and given the lack of knowledge of many within industry of codes which have been in existence for 20 or so years, it appears a change of culture will not eventuate. Secondly, enforcement will be the other major factor.
There is an absolute lack of enforcement of both ASEL and state legislation. It is the opinion of Live Export Shame that existing problems within industry will change with new legislation because there will be very little enforcement. Although state governments claim that animal welfare is a priority, this is clearly misleading; because they provide only minimal funding to an enormous and every growing issue.
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10 Standards in the livestock export industry
The Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) are the minimum requirements for the export of cattle, buffalo, sheep and goats from Australia.
The Standards were developed through a committee comprising the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC), the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS), the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), the National Consultative Committee on Animal Welfare (NCCAW) and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA). They were intended to ensure that:
- only healthy animals that meet all animal health and welfare requirements and export specifications are presented for export; and
- there is considerate management with a minimum of stress and injury at all stages of the export process.
Livecorp and others regard the ALES primarily as practicable standards set by and for
The matters covered by ALES include:
- selection of animals for export;
- preparation of animals for export;
- use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals;
- management of an assembly depot;
- design and facilities of such depots;
- land transportation requirements;
- inspection for fitness to travel;
- requirements for export by sea or air;
- specifications (and adherence to specifications); and
- humane destruction of animals.
It is generally recognised that the ASEL are inadequate, because the exporter is not COMPELLED to show compliance and because for the majority of the ASEL, from sourcing animals at farms to feedlot there is no enforcement. AQIS become involved at feedlot but do not inspect every animal in Western Australia. They prefer to leave this to the vet contracted to the exporter. At portside the vet contracted to the exporter again is responsible for checking the 80,000 + animals as they run passed him on the way to the door of the ship.
There is NO routine and or regular inspection of animals contained on trucks.
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11 The livestock export process
AQIS is the principal regulatory agency for livestock exports. In practice it is dependent
on a number of other parties to ensure that all requirements and specifications are met. The
basic process for agreeing import protocols with importing countries, sourcing animals,
transporting and preparing and inspecting livestock for export, is set out in Table 2.
Table 2 – The basic process for agreeing import
protocols with importing countries, sourcing
animals, transporting and preparing and inspecting livestock for export
The complexity of this as a regulatory system, with its myriad
and disparate responsibilities,
spread across a large number of parties, means that it is difficult to
responsibility for problems and ensure compliance with requirements. As
a result, and despite its
pivotal role, in an environment of industry ‘self-regulation’,
AQIS has found it difficult to achieve an effective level of over-arching coordination and control. The Review had concerns
that the current inspection, certification and approval process by the AQIS veterinarians appears
to rely on a simple ticking-off of a checklist, with inadequate audit and verification checks to
underpin the process.
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This can be seen clearly in the history of investigations and sanctions against livestock exporters.
Until October 2002, there had been very few actions taken by either AQIS or Livecorp against
livestock exporters for breaches of industry standards or provisions in the legislation. It was
considered that, since the 1998 reforms to the industry, Livecorp had the primary responsibility
for sanctions against exporters who could be demonstrated to have breached standards. This was
through their accreditation role, whereby they could withdraw or downgrade an exporter’s
Following a series of high mortality events on livestock export ships to the Middle East in 2002,
more attention was paid by AQIS to investigating particular causes of adverse events and
imposing regulatory sanctions on individual livestock exporters.
Between October 2002 and October 2003, 13 livestock exporters were investigated by AQIS for
potential breaches of export regulations. As a result of these investigations one export licence
was cancelled and one was suspended. In addition, six exporters were audited by AQIS to
verify that they had complied with conditions placed on their export licences.
July 2003, allegations were made in the national media that the level of
mortalities in a
consignment of sheep to the Middle East in 2001 had been under-reported.
As this was a
consignment prepared and exported under SLEP arrangements, all reports
of the voyage had
been sent to Livecorp. A subsequent investigation by AQIS into the allegations
notwithstanding admissions by the exporter that the level of mortalities
on this and other voyages
was routinely under-reported to Saudi authorities, there was no evidence
of under-reporting to
Australian authorities; therefore no offence had been committed against
and no action could be taken by AQIS. Quite apart from this unsatisfactory
Review questions whether, in a governance sense, AQIS should be the investigator
claims when it is the agency with the oversight responsibility.
Commonwealth legislation governing
the livestock export industry
The principle Commonwealth statutes and their relevant subordinate legislation,
which govern the
livestock export industry are as follows.
Export Control Act 1982
Export Control (Orders) Regulations
Export Control (Animals) Orders
Prescribed Good (General) Orders
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Export Licensing)
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Live Sheep and Goat Exports
to Saudi Arabia)
Order 2002 -
incorporating Saudi Livestock Export Program Industry Standards (SLEP)
(revoked on 28 October 2003
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Export of Live-stock to Saudi
Arabia) Order 2003
(commenced on 28 October 2003)
Navigation Act 1912
Marine Orders Part 43 Cargo & Handling – Livestock
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Model Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals
The current eight Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals relevant
to the preparation
and transportation of sheep, cattle and goats are set out below.
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Cattle, SCARM Report
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Land Transport of
Cattle, SCARM Report 77 (1999) 1
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: The Goat, SCARM
Report 32 (1991)
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Air Transport of
Livestock (1986) *
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Rail Transport of
Livestock (1983) *
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Road Transport of
Livestock (1983) *
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Sea Transport of
Livestock (1987) *
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: The Sheep, SCARM
Report 29 (1991)
The above four Model Codes that are marked * are available
from the website -
under the heading -
Reports/national standards/codes of practice
All the other Model Codes are available on the CSIRO website –
are 18 Model Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals on the CSIRO
The 18 codes on the CSIRO website combined with the 4 codes listed
above and marked *
comprise the full set of current Models Code of Practice for the Welfare
of Animals in Australia.
A new edition of the Model Code of Practice for the
Welfare of Animals: Cattle has recently been
finalised and will be submitted the Primary Industries Ministerial
Council early in 2004 for out of
New codes covering the land transport of sheep and
goats are currently being developed and, when
endorsed, will supercede those parts of the Model
Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals:
Rail Transport of Livestock (1983) * and the Model
Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals:
Road Transport of Livestock (1983) * that apply to sheep and goats.
1 The Model Code of Practice for the
Welfare of Animals: Land Transport of Cattle (SCARM Report 77) supercedes
those parts of the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Rail Transport
of Livestock (1983) * and the
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Road Transport of Livestock
(1983) * that apply to cattle.
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