The Department of Agriculture imposes additional conditions on sheep export

Additional conditions on sheep export to Jordan have been imposed by the Department of Agriculture, while an investigation into alleged welfare breaches is underway, reports ABC.

Sheep export  Image credit: wikimedia commons User:  Jörg Groß
Sheep export
Image credit: wikimedia commons User: Jörg Groß

The Department of Agriculture confirmed that it has launched two investigations against Livestock Shipping Services (LSS) in relation to alleged ‘leakage’ from approved supply chains in Jordan.

The information was confirmed at an Estimates hearing in Canberra.

Animal rights group Animals Australia has delivered footage to the department in June and October 2013. The footage allegedly shows Australian sheep being slaughtered outside of approved facilities in Jordan.

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon asked Agriculture Department officials what has been done to address the issue and what action they took between receiving the first and second complaints.

Rebecca Irwin, First assistant secretary with the department’s live animal export division, said that aside from launching two ongoing investigations aimed at establishing the accuracy and circumstances of each complaint, additional conditions were imposed on sheep exports to Jordan.

“For exporters of sheep to Jordan at the moment, the regulator requires a range of conditions that exporters need to meet. They include additional supply chain officers in country locations, additional reporting on reconciliation back to the regulator, and following the most recent complaint, exporters have to have a specific exporters identification marking on sheep that are exported,” she said.

Jordan is currently Australia’s third-largest market for live sheep, with approximately 265,000 head sent there so far this year.

According to departmental officials Australia has exported approximately 1.5 million live sheep to all markets so far in 2013.

The value of the Australian dollar, conditions set by importing countries, and the availability of sheep for export are just a few of the factors that have affected exports.

According to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), the value of all live exports – sheep, cattle and goats – was $783 million in 2012-13.

Senate Leader Eric Abetz, representing Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, said that the pre-election announcement was no more than an election promise from Labor.

The government believes current ESCAS preparations are sufficient and are working, and that the Inspector-General proposed by Labor to “check the checkers” represented an unnecessary level of red tape.

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