Australia’s new animal welfare laws are planned to start coming into force, State by State, from sometime in 2012.
In every State, these laws will require customers to tell transporters when an animal last had access to water for any movement that might last more than 24 hours.
The new laws will say that this information must be provided to transporters for any of these long-haul movements. They’ll be accompanied by guidelines that say this information should be provided for every load, including short hauls, just in case something goes wrong.
ALRTA’s policy on this issue is clear: we want this information to be captured on the National Vendor Declaration, because that is the only record that reliably travels with almost every animal or herd in Australia.
Despite the fact that these laws have been under development for something like five years, it seems that few, if any, of the major producer groups have a plan for how their members will meet these new legal requirements.
Representatives of the Cattle Council recently advised me that they intended to reject every option that’s been raised with them, but they have no alternative option of their own.
Since we raised this issue with them, Meat and Livestock Australia has reportedly written to several State regulators asking if it’s true that the laws will say what’s been published on governments’ websites for five years. Alarmingly, MLA is rumoured to have asked whether there is anything they should do!
Failing to produce a plan for managing ‘time of water/feed’ is leaving the livestock industry horribly exposed.
If the organisations who represent your customers won’t provide the leadership needed on this issue, it’s not clear what we can do.
Perhaps National Council will need to follow the example of our West Australian Association, and produce an ‘indemnity form’ for customers to sign when they load you.
This looks likely to become a hot issue for us in 2012.