LIVE cattle exporters are "disappointed with the outcome" of the new Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock - or ASEL 3.0 - but at least they can shift into their planning phase and continue trading.
ASEL 3.0 was released by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) quietly on its website a fortnight ago after what Australian Livestock Exporters' Council chief executive officer Mark Harvey-Sutton said was "a long process".
The changes will apply from November 2020.
The ASEL review was brought forward in 2018 but consultation was extended to the end of last year.
The key changes include revised pen space allowances, with more space provided to livestock on vessels in most circumstances; increases to the time required for some livestock to be prepared at the registered premises; changes to the notifiable mortality rate for livestock and the requirements for notification; a new definition of voyage length with related changes for personnel, bedding and feed requirements and the inclusion and extension of additional management plans for sea and air.
Mr Harvey-Sutton said while the new standards had been released, the industry was still waiting for the supporting processes to accompany them.
DAWE would be working with exporters in coming months to clarify and assist with the transition to the new guidelines.
"We are still working through the details," Mr Harvey-Sutton said.
"The main thing is the standards will affect the stocking density in cattle exports.
"The sheep industry has already adapted to the changes through the Heat Stress Risk Assessment requirements put in place and cattle will have to adjust.
"It will have an impact on exporters."
Mr Harvey-Sutton said the changes wouldn't stop the trade and exporters would continue to deliver livestock, under the highest animal welfare standards, to their established markets in Indonesia and South East Asia and beyond to support their food security requirements.
Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemens' Association chief executive officer Emma White said the final revised ASEL "still leaves the issues identified in our last submission unresolved for the most part".
Ms White said from a northern WA/Australian cattle industry perspective, "concerns still remain in relation to the final wording of the revised ASEL standards".
"The main concerns relate to the changes in stocking density and the impacts this will have for short haul voyages to South East Asia, in particular," Ms White said.
"Producers are ultimately expected to wear the additional costs of less cattle being able to be carried on live export vessels.
"We do however commend DAWE on allowing for further implementation consultation with industry between now and ASEL 3.0 coming into force in November 2020.
"This will be important in allowing industry to better understand/work through the anticipated process to allow for access to more favourable stocking densities for short haul voyages from Northern Australian ports.
"We are also awaiting further clarity from DAWE on what is happening with the review of the Cattle Heat Stress Risk Assessment model as this may add further complexity/cause further issues in terms of revised stocking densities and South East Asian destinations."
DAWE said it would conduct a major review of the ASEL every three years.
"Each year we will also make any necessary updates," DAWE said.
"These reviews ensure ASEL remains fit for purpose and reflects the latest science.
"Some ASEL Review recommendations could not be included in the ASEL 3.0 due to additional requirements, such as research.
"We will address these in the next revisions."