WA-based director, farmer and former Grains Research and Development Corporation chairman Terry Enright is the new chairman of LiveCorp and has two priority items in the sights of his new leadership agenda.
Mr Enright has been a director for six year and replaces David Galvin.
He said the “big change” that the livestock industry was looking at implementing was the Livestock Global Assurance Program (LGAP) to enhance animal welfare standards for Australian livestock to operate in and access overseas markets.
Mr Enright said LGAP was about implementing a better supply chain control and traceability system, to enhance animal welfare outcomes for the live export sector.
“We’ll be working quickly to get that in place because it will strengthen the control and traceability of livestock throughout the system and that’s the key area of focus immediately for LiveCorp,” Mr Enright said.
“But longer term, we’ll be focusing on ensuring we maintain market access for our key markets and work on the protocols to make sure we have access to markets.
“The Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) requires the livestock exporter to achieve control and traceability of animals but with LGAP, we’re trying to improve that control and traceability and shift it onto the node of operation in export countries in the feedlots, transporting systems and abattoirs.
“It means having a system in place which controls the movement of livestock through the system and more importantly, it’s an auditable system so through the LGAP company we can audit those facilities to ensure they’re complying with the system so we can control the movement of animals, right throughout it.
“The industry, or livestock exporters, have just agreed to go forward with LGAP and LiveCorp as the research and development arm of the industry will put that in place.”
Mr Enright said the flagged goal was to have LGAP in place and operational by 2019.
“We’ll be setting up the LGAP company over the next year and putting in place those measures,” he said.
“Importantly, we’ll also be going out and talking to our customers so they understand the system and we can get engagement right across the value chain to do that.”
This year’s Federal budget saw $8.3 million delivered over four years to implement LGAP, which will enhance ESCAS measures to improve animal welfare standards.
Mr Galvin told the LIVEXchange 2017 conference in Perth, in his out-going address, that the livestock export industry was going through a tough time financially, mostly due to high livestock prices.
Mr Enright didn’t go as far in describing the current market dynamic – but conceded there was escalating pressure, which would affect LiveCorp’s activities, given it was reliant on levies paid by exporters for R&D activities.
“The industry is in a tough situation financially because of the price of livestock,” Mr Enright said.
“There are financial pressures right across the industry so what we have to do as the R&D arm of the live export industry is to make sure that we meet the objectives of our exporting members to ensure they achieve financial sustainability.
“It’s been a very tough financial environment and ironically it’s driven by very high prices of livestock which is welcomed by the production sector and people understand that, but it makes it very difficult to compete in some of our markets, particularly if you take into account the value of the Australian dollar on top of that.
“We’ve seen a real spike in prices over the past 12-18 months and a range of factors are driving that, such as seasonal conditions in Australia and relative demand for livestock to the abattoirs here.
“But overall, we’re still exporting animals and our exporters are still achieving supply into those markets, albeit on a difficult footing, but what LiveCorp has to do is assist our exporters in achieving good outcomes.”
Mr Galvin said exporters were confronted with some of the most difficult economic conditions in the history of the industry.
“As a result, last financial year, cattle exports declined 27 per cent to about 835,000 head with a value of $1.1 billion,” he said.
“Sheep exports stayed steady at 1,852,000 with a value of $243m and most of that has been contributed by the industry in WA.
“Goat exporters went down 63pc in a year, their most dramatic decline, with only 29,000 exported at a value at $4.7m.”
However even with these challenges, Mr Galvin said the industry had increased its contribution to the national economy.
He said live exports supported 10,000 jobs in regional and rural Australia and contributed $1.4b to the Australian economy yearly.
“Enough of the doom and gloom,” he said.
Speaking at the conference, Assistant Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Luke Hartsuyker said the Federal government was committed to further reforms to improve the live export industry and noted the industry’s “unanimous vote for the LGAP motion this week”.
Mr Hartsuyker said the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (or ASEL) was another important part of Australia’s livestock export system, governing the transport of stock overseas and was being reviewed.
“We want to ensure we get the science right behind any proposed updates,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
“This review will ensure the standards are fit for purpose and take into account the latest animal health and welfare scientific information and advice.
“It also provides an opportunity to reduce the administrative burden on livestock transport businesses by adopting the nationally agreed Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for the Land Transport of Livestock in place of the current land transport standards set out in the ASEL.
“The review will be conducted as a series of modules with each module expected to take six to eight months to complete.
“This means we can prioritise some areas of work, encourage industry innovation and move more quickly to adapt technological improvements.
“The committee is expected to make their first report to the department by May, 2018.
“There will be for stakeholders to contribute to the standards throughout the review process – I encourage you to get involved and participate in the review.”