THE animal export sector has been working with other industry groups to develop an alternative system to the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) - the Livestock Global Assurance Program (LGAP) - which would operate across all Australia’s live export markets, not just Saudi Arabia.
ALEC (Australian Livestock Exporters' Council), MLA (Meat and Livestock Australia) and LiveCorp have all participated in the development of the program.
LGAP is being promoted as a quality assurance (QA) certification scheme which would operate independently of government and at arms-length of industry.
One of the certification system’s key selling points would be achieving outcomes for animal welfare equivalent to ESCAS standards or better, according to World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) requirements.
It would also reduce red-tape costs and bureaucratic interference faced by industry but also deliver greater, positive welfare outcomes by including non-Australian originated animals in foreign supply chains and facilities, like feedlots and abattoirs.
Future proofing live export
A webinar on the LGAP system says its design is being driven by industry to develop a QA certification system underpinned by best-practice animal welfare, according to OIE guidelines.
It would refine the ESCAS system and make it more “sustainable” and “future proof” the live export industry, after the animal welfare regime was implemented in the wake of the 2011 Indonesian live cattle suspension over six weeks at “break-neck speed”.
LGAP would also be underpinned by auditing standards, according to the ISO 17065 system, which is the world’s best-practice model for certification bodies operating product verification systems.
It’s understood a pilot of the proposed LGAP system is set to be launched in coming weeks in three existing ESCAS-approved supply chains, in three different markets over three months.
Results from the pilot program are due to be used in refining the final model which is then due to be handed over to ALEC, MLA and LiveCorp by December 2015 or early 2016.
It’s understood LGAP would ultimately require legislative changes in federal parliament.
However, the Abbott government may be reluctant to raise any legislation without a guarantee of Labor’s support, to avoid picking a potentially volatile political fight once the pilot LGAP model is complete, especially with a federal election looming.
MLA has also called for expressions of interest from potential certification bodies to participate in the pilot scheme.
Facilities will be rated according to animal welfare risk and those that are ESCAS compliant are expected to meet the scheme’s requirements.