THE live export industry faces the prospect of becoming a hyper-regulated, uncertain trade easily held to ransom if it does not take back control, according to consultant Peter Schuster.
Peter Schuster, Schuster Consulting Group, told yesterday’s LiveXchange conference in Townsville the livestock industry needs to adopt a unit-based approach through a quality assurance (QA) scheme to control its own destiny.
“With a unit-based approach, we can unshackle supply chains, remove the perception Australia is impinging on foreign supply chains’ sovereignty, and allow the supply chain to operate on a certification status,” Mr Schuster said.
“Under a QA scheme, an individual auditor would approach a certification body who could bestow certification on the unit, faculty or identity against a global standard,” he said.
Mr Schuster said advantages of a QA program included improved animal welfare not only for Australian cattle, but also foreign markets’ local herd and government independence.
“Independence from government would in turn open up market access with the need for certification to be verified by a third party.
“Where trust is lacking, verification by a third party is essential.”
Mr Schuster said while the industry now had a choice to make, it was not given that same option in 2011 when the Australian government banned live cattle exports to Indonesia.
He said the problem with the since-implemented Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) was its restriction on the industry reaching its full potential due to its government and bureaucratic driven nature.
“The live export industry is at an impasse – it can choose to remain in a hyper-regulated environment or it can take control of its own destiny.”
Mr Schuster said QA had already proven a success in the forestry and seafood industries, which had similarly struggled to balance a commercial operation with ethical standards of the consumer – the general public.
He said QA would most likely be phased in, parallel to ESCAS, before a crossover and eventual total convergence occurred.
“There needs to be partnership and consultation with government, but ultimately there needs to be convergence.
“Otherwise there would be duplication, increasing the problem.”
According to Dr Richard Trivett , chairman of livestock exporter, Austrex, 71 per cent of research and development’s investment in the live export industry was in animal health and welfare, while supply chain efficiency accounted for 21pc and trade and market access a mere 8pc.