Australia’s government removed a monthlong ban on live cattle exports to neighbouring Indonesia July 7, saying it was satisfied the A$320-million trade could resume after a furor over mistreatment of livestock.
The minority government has been under pressure from ranchers to overturn the ban, put in place after television footage showed cattle being beaten, whipped and maimed prior to slaughter in some Indonesian abattoirs.
“I’ve lifted the suspension so that we can support and continue to support, an industry that is vital, that is good for the Australian economy, and mutually beneficial trade for both Australia and Indonesia,” Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig told reporters in Canberra.
Indonesia’s deputy agriculture minister, Bayu Krisnamurthi, said the scrapping of the ban was “great news,” coming a day before Australia’s Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd had been due in Jakarta to discuss how to restart the controversial trade.
Farm animal welfare charity Compassion in World Farming, however, expressed disappointment with the decision.
“We fear that the resumption of the trade will inevitably lead to Australian cattle once again being forced to undergo extreme suffering,” chief policy adviser Peter Stevenson said.
Krisnamurthi said Jakarta was rethinking its reliance on live cattle imports in the wake of the ban.
The experience with Australia clearly showed that depending on imports to satisfy food needs was risky, he told Reuters.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in June called for a review of Indonesia’s import policies, while the fisheries minister opened a campaign to convince Indonesians to swap to fish from meat.
Ludwig said he had revised export control orders to require ranchers to apply for permits to demonstrate they can meet animal welfare requirements.
“They require exporters to trace cattle from properties, onto vessels, into feedlots and into abattoirs that meet agreed international standards,” he said.
Each abattoir in Indonesia would also be independently audited and would have to meet animal welfare standards, Ludwig said.