NORTH SYDNEY, Australia – The Australian livestock industry said it understands why the Australian government decided to temporarily suspend the live cattle trade to Indonesia until a controlled system that will assure the welfare of Australian cattle exported to Indonesia has been implemented, according to Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA). The controlled system is part of a solution package developed by the Australian industry and presented to government.

Under the proposed system, the industry commits to reducing trade to a core group of facilities in Indonesia independently accredited to meet OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) animal-welfare standards. A stringent supply chain, the rapid introduction of stunning and an ongoing review and monitoring program will ensure Australian cattle are processed only through these facilities.

Don Heatley, MLA chairman, said the suspension of the trade will most certainly have an impact on cattle producers and communities in the north and this needs to be acknowledged.

"However, industry is confident it can work with the Australian and Indonesian governments to deliver the solution," he said. "This decision gives industry sufficient time to implement the controlled system — which will ensure the appropriate treatment of Australian cattle in Indonesia."

The industry solution includes:

  • Australia only supplying cattle to Indonesian processing facilities independently assessed and accredited against OIE animal welfare standards.
  • Animal welfare officers are to be permanently stationed at accredited processing facilities to ensure processing consistently meets these standards.
  • Industry will rapidly increase the use of stunning — which exceeds OIE standards — in as many of these facilities as possible.

"We are pleased that the government has indicated that it will work with the Indonesian government, and the Australian and Indonesian industries to implement a solution," Heatley said. "The welfare of our animals is paramount. Our message is: no accreditation, no cattle.”

MLA and Livecorp are reviewing industry programs in all markets to ensure their animals are being treated humanely and with respect during management and processing, LiveCorp CEO Cameron Hall said. "These solutions will take time, but the Australian industry is committed to ensuring Australian producers have confidence their livestock are well treated and retain access to key markets," he concluded.