Control and traceability (C&T) is a requirement under the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) aimed at ensuring livestock exported from Australia remain in feedlots and abattoirs that have been approved as meeting the required standards for animal welfare.
As responsibility for compliance lies with Australian exporters, many have invested heavily in systems to monitor the whereabouts of cattle, sheep and goats they have sent overseas.
A review has been carried out to identify challenges with the current regulations, and determine how the Livestock Global Assurance Program (LGAP) may be able to address them.
This has involved consultation with exporters, the regulator and other industry bodies; an analysis of historical reports of non-compliance with ESCAS; a review of current C&T systems, including those provided by some third parties; and a review of the current Standards and Rules developed for LGAP.
A common theme has been the lack of a clearly defined standard or requirement relating to C&T under ESCAS. Rather, there are stipulations across various Export Advisory Notices (EANs) and other guidance materials. As a consequence, there is significant variability in the way the requirements are interpreted, and in each exporter’s approach to meeting them.
LGAP is an initiative of the industry which provides an alternative approach to demonstrating compliance with ESCAS. It is run by an independent company, AniMark, and is currently operating in Vietnam.
C&T is currently embedded throughout the LGAP Standards, rather than being a stand-alone requirement. The review has found that LGAP provides clear expectations for C&T, and in its current form has the potential to alleviate many of the challenges identified.
Unlike ESCAS, where full responsibility lies with exporters to ensure compliance in every facility they send livestock to, LGAP participants are accountable for C&T activities and individually audited at every level in the supply chain. This means responsibility for compliance will sit more equitably with those most able to influence C&T, because that’s where the livestock are.
The project has now moved to the development of a stand-alone C&T System Standard for LGAP, to help address some of the remaining challenges. It will introduce a standardised approach to C&T systems, for instance by specifying the format of data being collected and requirements for its storage, and encompass third party providers of C&T services as well as existing systems used by exporters. It will not prescribe a specific technology or system, nor will it create one.
It is expected the draft System Standard will be released in early March for a 60 day period of public comment, before it goes back to the AniMark Standards Committee to be finalised. Some modifications will also be needed to the existing LGAP Standards and Rules to recognise the new requirements.