A JORDANIAN facility has been removed from an Australian live sheep supply chain after animals were sold outside export assurance system guidelines.
The Australian Livestock Exporters Council said that during this year’s Eid Al Adha festival exporter Livestock Shipping Services was made aware of Australian sheep leaving approved Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System facilities.
LSS identified one offending facility that sold sheep outside the LSS-approved supply chain, in blatant disregard of their ESCAS obligations, ALEC said. LSS has permanently removed the offending facility from the supply chain with no opportunity to be ever re-added, a council statement said.
A Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment spokesperson said it is investigating the matter, but it would be inappropriate to comment while it is under investigation.
ALEC has said the non-compliance highlights that systems are working in Jordan; however, Animals Australia chief investigator Lyn White said the evidence revealed thousands of Australian sheep being supplied and sold across ten different locations in Jordan, including from prominent livestock markets well-known to the industry.
“Vendors were also openly advertising Australian sheep for sale on social media.
“Footage obtained by local investigators as well as that uploaded by sellers to social media shows Australian sheep being dragged, pushed, unloaded from trucks without ramps, being sold to private buyers, trussed and dragged into vehicles, poor handling and slaughtered Australian sheep on filthy makeshift street slaughter floors,” Ms White said.
Ms White said Animals Australia has notified the department of extensive ESCAS breaches throughout Jordan and has lodged a formal complaint.
LSS reported non-compliance to DAWE
ALEC said LSS became aware of a loss of control within the Jordan sheep supply chain on Tuesday 28 July, 3 days prior to the beginning of Eid Al Adha and immediately self-reported the ESCAS non-compliance to DAWE as required under the ESCAS guidelines.
ALEC said Jordan is a traditional trader market where livestock are sold through traders and the local people value the ability to select their own animals especially during the cultural celebration with their families. Local advice in the market suggests there was an increased demand for during COVID-19 with people very conscious and fearful about food security, ALEC said. Traditional practices in these markets centre around people seeing a fit and healthy animal before being processed and prepared for consumption.
ALEC said LSS has been exporting sheep to the Middle East since 1998 and it is an important market for sheep producers in Australia. Since 2015, LSS has been involved in two non-compliance investigations in Jordan, as well as the current self-report. Delivery of consignments in 2020 has been critical for food security, especially with reduced airfreight delivery of chilled and frozen food arriving during COVID-19, ALEC said.
An LSS spokesperson said Jordan has embraced ESCAS and made significant improvements in animal welfare practice.
“It is disheartening that the opportunistic and desperate actions of one has tarnished the good work and compliance of all other supply chain partners.”
“The early identification, rectification and self-reporting of the non-compliance highlights our processes and systems are working.
“We strongly believe we have significantly improved welfare outcomes for both Australian and local livestock with our presence and support in this market, which further highlights the ongoing importance of Australian involvement in the market.”
The spokesperson said LSS is committed to ESCAS compliance and has invested significantly in all markets it exports to, that improves animal welfare outcomes for Australian and local livestock.
“We know there is always more to be done and we will continue to invest in our supply chains.”
Animals Australia suggests export licence suspension
Ms White said LSS is effectively a Jordanian owned company and has sought to shift responsibility to a third party.
“As a result, Animals Australia will supply the Regulator with independent verification from Jordan as to the overarching control that LSS’s Jordanian parent company has over their supply chains.”
Ms White said LSS has control over its entire supply chain in Jordan via their powerful parent company, Hijazi & Ghosheh, with whom they share directors.
“This exporter has been responsible for more breaches of ESCAS regulations than any other company, with 27 non-compliances since 2012, including three in Jordan.
“Thousands of Australian sheep and cattle have suffered extreme cruelty as a result of this company’s failure to adhere to their legal obligations,” she said.
“While there may be differing opinions between animal advocates and farming bodies as to whether live export should continue, where we can agree is that breaches of regulations require sanctions that motivate compliance.
“We can only imagine the frustration of export companies that strive to comply with regulations to see the lack of meaningful sanctions against companies found responsible for multiple regulatory breaches,” Ms White said.
“A regulatory system where an exporter can be found responsible for 27 breaches, yet still not had their export licence suspended, is only going to result in further breaches, further animal suffering and fuel the public’s desire for this trade to be brought to an end.”