RSPCA Australia is calling on the live export industry to voluntarily stop sending cattle to Vietnam until an independent review of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) can be completed.
The RSPCA calling for the urgent review following the latest of many rounds of damning reports of animal welfare breaches in Vietnam, which revealed poor animal handling practices and the use of “unapproved movement aids”, as well as the likelihood that cattle weren’t stunned prior to slaughter, and over a thousand cattle that have gone missing from the approved supply chains.
RSPCA Senior Policy Officer Dr Jed Goodfellow said the reports were further evidence of the systemic compliance issues in the nation.
“It is clear that exporters are still struggling to maintain the integrity of supply chains in Vietnam,” he said.
“Most worrying is the revelation that the supply chain breaches are intentional, with multiple reports of abattoir and feedlot workers tampering with CCTV systems and showing open hostility toward in-market export staff,
“These reports are just the latest in a horrifying history of incidents in the region, with brutal sledgehammering of Australian cattle reported in 2013, 2015, and again in 2016,
“Vietnam receives one third of the volume of cattle that Indonesia does yet it has more than three times the number of ESCAS non-compliances,
“No other market comes close to the level of ESCAS non-compliance found in Vietnam,
“This situation now demands an urgent response from both government and industry,
“The Government has got to stop looking at these breaches in isolation and start looking at the market as a whole – clearly there are continuing and systemic issues at play,
“Local acceptance of ESCAS arrangements remains a serious obstacle to supply chain control and there are strong incentives for leakage of animals into the northern provinces of Vietnam and into China,
RSPCA Australia is calling on the Australian Government to initiate an immediate and urgent review of ESCAS arrangements within the country.
“The live export industry has had six years to get supply chains under control in Vietnam and it’s now clear they cannot get them under control,
“We cannot sit back and wait for them to conduct yet another one of their own reviews, or wait to see the evidence of failure from the next round of non-compliance reports,
“They’ve been marking their own homework long enough.
“There has never been more public scrutiny of the live export trade than there is now.
“It is high time the Government stepped in to uphold its own regulations, starting with the appointment of an independent review panel.
The most recent Regulatory Performance Report released by the Department of Agriculture last week details three separate incidents of non-compliance within the country involving 1,676 Australian cattle.
Findings of critical non-compliance were recorded against both Livestock Shipping Services and Purcell Bros Pty Ltd, and one finding of major non-compliance was recorded against North Australian Cattle Company Pty Ltd and International Livestock Exports Pty Ltd.