ESCAS – Is not a Kangaroo Court!

A kangaroo court is “a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted”.(Wikipedia)

There is nothing worse than watching incompetent people doing an even worse incompetent job. That is what the latest Gaza animal footage portrays to me. No doubt cruelty inflicted because of people who obviously have no idea on how to handle a heavy, strong animal. The people feared the animal and feared for themselves, yet other onlookers had no real comprehension of what that animal could inflict and stood around watching the slaughter like a spectacle. To me the crowd actually indicated the lack of knowledge of the people in general. They stood close to animals throwing themselves around oblivious to how easily those animals could physically take them out.

The animals showed classic fight and flight characteristics, struggling, refusal to move forward because onlookers stood directly in their path. These scenes were nearly predictable on how they would be played out before they even happened, knowing that the treatment for the animal from the onset was bad and would only get worse. The final requirement was obviously the animal needed to be killed but the process used to do that was miserable and completely lacked any respect or animal welfare considerations. Actually it lacked any people welfare considerations too but I’m concerned with the direct treatment of the animal here.

Like me, many producers I’m sure would have seen exactly what the outcome of the animal being dragged off the truck was going to be before he even moved from the truck, the straining of being held by a rope, the animals obvious reluctance to jump out of a truck when people were in front on him. The slipping on concrete with stairs of all things and the incompetent cutting at times in that video and others as the person tried to stab rather than make a decisive clear incision with an adequate knife. The slaughterment weren’t in a good position to cut or had no control of the movement of the animal, leverage or opportunity to do the throat cut properly. Even the fact there was a crowd of people would have stressed the animal immensely in most scenes. Obviously a complete and utter lack of facilities and a total breakdown in any form or animal welfare consideration was apparent for all the videos.

The ones I watched were jerky and short shots, jumping from scene to scene of various incidents. I’m not sure if due to filming or my internet capabilities. The poor fella who was kneecapped, Well he had obviously broken his restraints and was giving the handlers a well-deserved rubbing for their incompetency and was shot, why the hell the bloke with the gun didn’t shoot him in the head  is beyond me. I don’t know if these animals had to meet Halal, from what I’ve read concerning halal then the stress of the animal and pain wasn’t Halal anyway and therefore I don’t think relevant to defence of the treatment inflicted on these animals.

This is not how I would like my animals to be  treated if they happened to be sent there and there is absolutely no doubt that it was a disgraceful display of animal handling ability. As for being the worst I have seen, this was bad but no the animal with a broken leg tortured in Indonesia footage filmed 2010 was by far worse.

As far as I know I have never sold to LSS and I don’t know of orders they have had in the past in the NT therefore it is easy to say for me I wouldn’t sell to them, but I do feel for the producers who supplied these animals. There is a degree of good faith the producer has to place in the fact that an exporter must have pre-approved supply chains through the Australian Livestock export standards and then ESCAS to be allowed to export animals. It is not the producer I feel is accountable here it is the exporter and their responsibilities to uphold the requirements of ESCAS. Failure to do so should invoke very stiff penalties.

The jury is out on who these Gaza animals were and their origin, I don’t trust Animals Australia and as the usual blind devotee to AA, RSPCA have jumped in to add their voice instantaneously to the choir of calling a ban. These animal rights groups are not judge jury and executioner as they seem to think they are, just the accuser. LSS, the WA based exporter who is charged with supplying these animals deserves a right of reply to defence. For that we need to wait. In the new found world of social media that is a foreign concept.

DAFF will have a process they follow and for good reason, procedures and protocols of investigation will enable a through investigation to look at all the facts and information. Trial by social media is neither productive, fair or an honest representation of circumstances and facts.

ESCAS flowchart #4._edited-1

Source – http://www.daff.gov.au/biosecurity/export/live-animals/livestock/regulatory-framework/compliance-investigations

Flowchart from DAFF concerning the process of investigation of non-compliance Investigations concerning ESCAS.

 

There are serious questions that need to be considered in the live export supply chains as reports are conducted;

Is ESCAS effectively implementing a system that is assisting in the protection of Australian animals exported to overseas destinations?

In my opinion (in regards to cattle as that is what I deal in) Yes. I do believe ESCAS has created a framework on which to build consistent, methodical and strong animal welfare principals and rules of which the exporters follow and as a producer while I understand ESCAS is higly expensive I’m glad it is now in place to form an animal welfare framework. I believe Indonesia is a shining example in many areas of improvement in the supply chain of animal welfare from education, participation, improvement in practices and investment by Australia in ensuring the traceability of Australian animals is paramount and followed through.

Australia sent 66,580 cattle to Israel in 2013 up to the end of September (13% of all LE cattle sent from Australia for same period), approximately 50,000 in each of 2012 & 2011 and just over 43,000 in 2010. All animals intended for slaughter, no dairy or breeders.

ESCAS will never be a perfect system; there will never be the ability to absolutely guarantee that animal welfare standards will be met at all levels simply because we are dealing with too many unknown factors and changes in circumstances the biggest ones being people and animals.

I can’t give guarantees I can meet all animal welfare requirements on my own property for the exact same reasons. But I can certainly conduct procedures to make sure I give my animals and myself the best chance to ensure their welfare and if I don’t, which happens I hopefully learn and make improvements. I do this not because its law or I’m worried about someone with a camera hiding behind a tree I make improvements to animal procedures to improve animal welfare.

In the case of exporters and ESCAS, if the threat is the exporter could lose their licence to export, they lose their ability to earn income. It just doesn’t make sense that an exporter wouldn’t comply to ESCAS if their intention is to continue live export, if they are so blasé to flaunt the rules intentionally and not keep control of the animals in their supply chains then no doubt they should lose their licence to export.

Are there penalties and are they adequate for those who breach ESCAS?

DAFF will establish the animals origins and their movements in these supply chains then find out if, why and where the animals left the supply chain.

In all honesty I don’t know the specifics of what penalties are applicable. I will be watching with interest if exporters are found negligent or intentionally allowed animals to be removed from the supply chain and what the outcomes of those findings will be. Ultimately if the exporter is found to purposely breach ESCAS then they should lose their licence to export.
As a producer if we can’t trust ESCAS to uphold what we want, which is ensuring as best as possible adherence to positive animal welfare in our export markets, then I wouldn’t expect others to believe its principals either.

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Categories: Animal Welfare, Legislation, Live Exports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “ESCAS – Is not a Kangaroo Court!

  1. Archibald

    Jo,
    Don’t you understand, that making ESCAS more onerous you will reduce the competition for the purchase of your cattle. You will affect your own profitability. I’m not agreeing that we should not be concerned about animal welfare, but to infringe the sovereignty of other countries is not acceptable, and highly probably breaches WTO trade rules. Already Australia has lost Saudi markets due to sovereignty issues, and Malaysia appear to be just ignoring ESCAS. There will be an overseas backlash against ESCAS eventually.
    If as Andrew Wilkie wants to do, that is close down live export, the processor UNLIKELY ALLIANCE will break many cattle producers, including you. The only way forward is for competition in the live cattle markets, without it you and many cattle producers are doomed to bankruptcy.
    Is this so hard to understand.
    Animal welfare is important, but to believe we can control with ESCAS what happens to every beast overseas is fantasy. What do you think is happening to cows and calves around Alice Springs where it has become uneconomical to muster them. Do they live in happy retirement, doubt it; more likely torn to pieces on the hoof, by wild dogs dying a prolonged and horrible death!! these animals would number in the 1000’s compared to less than a handful of current LE animal welfare issues.

  2. I’m not saying make ESCAS more difficult to meet at all, what the article was aimed at was that ESCAS is a process by which exporters are held accountable. We are being held to account by media hysteria and I personally question the validity of much of the footage so called exposes because most are simply youtubes from troll (fake) accounts. We are losing markets and that will continue if ESCAS becomes increasingly difficult but I want to see our animals humanely treated, that means control of supply chains and pre-stunning. If producers are willing to send animals to markets without some form of animal welfare in place then they do deserve to go broke. Unfortunately being a small producer it will be us that goes broke before any of the bigger organisations. By the way my husband and I owned land in the Simpson desert, please don’t lecture me about droughts and problems with animal welfare there I know it all too well. I am also fully aware of the lack of affordability of production where I am if we loose Live export. We will have problems with processors in 2014 with recent predictions saying the national herd will shrink to 25M, but if they can’t match pricing of LE I don’t see why we should support them. I hope the handful of animal welfare issues is true but the fact of the matter is we have people watching who are solely focused on destroying LE and don’t give a damn about the local processing including cartage, droughts, etc. It may well be that handful of mistreatment that will rip LE apart. Welcome to the new world of accountabity, traceability and intense scrutiny. Jo

  3. Archibald

    Its a bit pointless holding people accountable whom aren’t the ones being cruel. That’s why ESCAS is unlikely to achieve anything except more bankrupt cattle producers who will carry the ever increasing cost of other sovereign countries animal welfare programs in the longer term.
    There were other options to this animal welfare issue, it is unfortunate for all northern cattle producers that NTCA accepted ESCAS as the solution and supported it. It will now destroy the very producers that fund NTCA, and NTCA will wonder what happened to their membership and start crying out for compulsory levy support because they jumped at a non-solution.

  4. What are the other options? As far as I can see we’re in between a rock and a hard place.

  5. Jo,

    Excellently written article as usual, it all helps people like me who have very little “real” knowledge of live export but are very interested in it, learn that little bit more.

    I feel that if everyone involved in all sides (producers, exporters, animal rights groups and interested bystanders – like me) of the live export debate could express what they have to say while being respectful of others opinions and not jumping in boots first and gums flapping.

    Your fair mindedness in the situation you are in is very impressive.

    I for one am very sick of the crude twitter debate from both sides and have made a promise to myself to stay right away from the issue on twitter in 2014.

    I wish I could have your faith in ESCAS’s ability to improve the welfare of animals being exported but I am a little cynical of a government departments ability to do….. well anything really.

    I think a lot of the frustration from the “normal” people watching this is their lack of ability to do anything about it other than support AA and the like. They are not your customers, so they can’t put any pressure on anyone by buying differently (like free range eggs etc) or they can’t make a complaint to the RSPCA or the police in the LE case because what is happening is not in Australia.

    I have seen some silly comments on twitter and other forums supporting LE:

    * The cruelty / animal welfare is not IN Australia, so it is not OUR problem.
    * If you are worried about AW overseas, go overseas and tell them they are wrong.
    * The only people supporting AA / RSPCA are vegans who want to shut the meat industry down.
    * There are stories around that some producers would like to see non ESCAS markets opened up.

    … and from those supporting the banning of LE :

    * “You lot” don’t care about animal welfare.
    * Lots of nasty name calling and accusations.

    It’s not really fair that livestock producers such as yourselves bare the brunt of the hostility but you are the only visible targets I guess.

    So while I can’t really support LE myself because I doubt the ability for it to ever be free of huge animal welfare problems, especially in new markets, I can empathise and feel bad for producers such as yourself and the situation and uncertainty you are now faced with.

    I am not sure what the solution to this ongoing problem is and unfortunately I don’t see any end in sight.

    Good luck in 2014

  6. Thanks for your comments Phil. I think you raise very vailid points, I also have stepped back from the twitter and facebook in particular Live export debate as I feel too many comments are targeted personally and of little benefit to either side when they degenerate into the tit-for-tat rubbish. I think ESCAS is a start why it wasn’t implemented many years ago is beyond me and through possibly lack of producer pressure from people like me it should have been. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but I simply didn’t know 10-15 years ago what I know now. I have faith in ESCAS because I talk directly to some in Indonesia who implement it and talk of its improvements and problems.
    In the perfect world we’d all have meat processing centres all over the place and we could process our animals locally, unfortunately economics just doesn’t allow that. While I have a vested interest in ESCAS I do believe some exporters and countries simply shouldn’t be allowed to process our animals. thanks Jo

  7. Archibald

    The only problem is that ESCAS is probably kangaroo law. As I said before, it infringes the sovereignty of overseas countries and that’s why some are ignoring it or refusing to take Australian animals.
    Only time will tell whether our infringement of other countries sovereignty will be allowed to continue.
    Tell me Jo, when you buy livestock and say the cow has a calf that the cow can’t sustain, does the previous owner demand you look after that cow and calf?

  8. We’re not talking about breeders in Australia these are slaughter animals intended for slaughter, animals that deserve a quick and efficient death. ESCAS has its problems but it also should have been put in place years ago. For that failure to foresee I’m still pissed at MLA.

    Answer my question? you seem very keen to lay crap on everything but I haven’t heard a single solution yet, particularly of what you reckoned were other options! By the sounds of it you think its OK to send an animal anywhere and not give a hoot about it. I don’t. Yes they are prescribed goods, yes they are items of ownership but they are animals and while I don’t like the term sentient beings as to me that humanises them with emotions they don’t have, they certainly have instincts of pain and stress. There are most certainly some exporters who should not be allowed to export Australian animals and some countries that shouldn’t be allowed to import them. Get them out of the system, they can get it right or get lost. I actually think that with the world processing costs becoming increasingly expensive processing overseas will be what Australia will do more in the future of, with live export and then processing in another country. I wish we could own and control the whole supply chain but ESCAS is the next best thing. We improve it now we improve it for the future. If we bury our head in the sand and pretend the animal rights activists will go away or we can fob them off, the politicians won’t side with us for the long haul, we’re the minority, we will go down the pig headed path of total shut down of the LE industry. You can argue sovereignty all you like and while from a legal view I can see that is correct as law is fact not emotion, No the next man in the supply chain isn’t accountable in Australia. We have clowns in power that are governed by emotion not fact, they make decisions to save their arses today and no consideration for tommorrow. Agriculture is not the majority vote, that pedestal is gone, and many in the urban areas really don’t give a shit about the people up north, they have their own problems. They are not seeing our media views they are only seeing the likes of AA and their local ill informed politicians. Don’t be fooled that the animal rights activists will be satisfied with shutting LE down even if they could. Its barely a stepping stone to the next animal production system they are gunning for in Australia, for us it will be long haul transport then point of slaughter and then the process of that slaughter etc etc. ESCAS has its problems but it’s better than no market at all. Jo

  9. Archibald

    As you will be aware your own representative organisation NTCA supported the Live Ex ban. This kind of knee jerk reaction by NTCA and Ludwig caused massive damage to the cattle industry in Australia.
    The alternative that should have occurred was for the Minister to go and negotiate with our customers (Indonesia etc) and sort it diplomatically and come to agreement on methodology of improving animal welfare, not upset our customers , ignore sovereignty, destroy livestock producers, and leaving exporters and live cattle producers footing the bill for ESCAS in the process; while handing the local processors millions in extra profit from the resulting collapse in livestock prices. I would have thought this was obvious to all.
    All I hope Jo is that all Northern Cattle producers have learnt something about their own NTCA and the peak body Cattle Council Australia (CCA) and put in a submission in relation to the current red meat “industry structure,” and having groups like NTCA and CCA responsible and accountable to the livestock producer instead of the push to have all these groups funded by levies and accountable to the government, whom will hand them the levies. More of the same will do nothing for the cattle livestock industry in the North, funding via levies will make them less accountable to you as a livestock producer.
    Unless livestock producers grab this opportunity for change and stop believing NTCA and CCA actually represent them, there will be a further deterioration in their financial status and the blame will rest squarely on the livestock producers shoulders for doing nothing to achieve the required change.

  10. Archibald

    And from Beef Central ;-“This is an important question that lies at the heart of the debate about livestock exports, because the principal of whole-of-life responsibility applied to livestock exported from Australia for slaughter does not apply to livestock exported from any other nation, does not apply to livestock exported for breeding or other purposes, and nor does it apply to livestock or animals traded between individuals in Australia. In fact it also does not apply to any other traded or exported agricultural product. – See more at: http://www.beefcentral.com/p/news/article/4142#sthash.THLVjkrB.dpuf

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