The Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) is an assurance system based on four principles:
- Animal welfare: animal handling and slaughter in the importing country conforms to World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) animal welfare recommendations
- Control through the supply chain: the exporter has control of all supply chain arrangements for livestock transport, management and slaughter. All livestock remain in the supply chain
- Traceability through the supply chain: the exporter can trace all livestock through the supply chain
- Independent audit: the supply chain in the importing country is independently audited.
Exporters are required to have an ESCAS in place for all feeder and slaughter livestock. ESCAS does not apply to export of breeder livestock. In order for the department to consider a NOI (and CRMP for sea) for approval, exporters must have an approved ESCAS in place for the relevant market.
The Australian Government released a report on ESCAS on 21 January 2015. The report looks at the effectiveness of ESCAS from its introduction in July 2011 through to 30 November 2014 in delivering animal welfare outcomes and facilitating trade. The report also includes facts, data and practical examples of how ESCAS has been implemented for different markets.
Information required for ESCAS submissions
Further details on what is required in an ESCAS submission are outlined in EAN 2014-16.
Animal welfare: Conformity to OIE animal welfare recommendations for animal handling and slaughter in the importing country
An exporter’s submission for approval of an ESCAS must demonstrate that livestock in the supply chain will be handled in conformity to OIE recommendations for animal welfare, up to and including the point of slaughter. The ESCAS submission must include results of an independent audit, to demonstrate conformity to OIE animal welfare recommendations throughout the proposed supply chain.
Further information and guidance can be found on the ESCAS animal welfare audit standards and auditor checklist page.
Control through the supply chain
The ESCAS submission must clearly describe the exporter’s system for control of all supply chain arrangements for livestock transport, management and slaughter. These arrangements must ensure that livestock remain within the supply chain. The ESCAS submission must give supporting evidence of those control arrangements.
An exporter could demonstrate control by:
- control and traceability declarations (a revised declaration can be found at EAN 2014-16), or
- agreements between the exporter and importer/operators confirming animal welfare, control and traceability requirements can be met, or
- other documents - a management strategy or similar that outlines how ESCAS outcomes of animal welfare, control and traceability will be met.
Traceability through the supply chain
The ESCAS submission must clearly demonstrate that the exporter can trace all livestock through the supply chain. Traceability requirements for cattle and buffalo are different from those for sheep and goats.
3a. Traceability for cattle and buffalo
The ESCAS submission must demonstrate that individual animals can be identified and located at any point along the export supply chain, from the point of loading the vessel up to and including the point of slaughter in the importing country. The system of identification is at the discretion of the exporter, but it must:
- enable identification of individual cattle and buffalo
- allow for the reconciliation of cattle and buffalo at each point of the supply chain
- be capable of giving reports on individual cattle and buffalo, and for consignments as a whole.
The department requires exporters to submit a declaration (EAN2014-11) at the time of submitting each Independent Performance Audit Report for cattle and/or buffalo ESCAS, signed by a person nominated in management or control of the livestock export business, confirming that the animals remained/remain within the approved supply chain.
3b. Traceability for sheep and goats
Australia’s identification system for sheep and goats is flock-based to a property. It is not based on individual animal identification as is the case for cattle and buffalo. For this reason, exporters must implement a system of animal traceability based on counting and reconciliation of animals at all points along the supply chain.
The Export Advisory Notice (EAN) EAN 2015-06 sets out the department’s requirements for independent audits of an ESCAS for cattle, buffalo, sheep and goats exported for feeder or slaughter purposes.
There are two types of independent audit reports—initial and performance:
- The Independent Initial Audit Report (IIAR), which an exporter must submit with a NOI for the department’s approval for a consignment that will enter a new ESCAS, before any livestock have been exported into that ESCAS.
- The Independent Performance Audit Report (IPAR), which an exporter must submit to the department one to four times a year based on the facility’s risk rating. IPARs are used to demonstrate ongoing compliance with ESCAS requirements including control of the supply chain; the traceability system; and whether OIE recommendations for animal welfare are met.
Compliance measures and sanctions
Failure of a licensed exporter to comply with the approved ESCAS could result in a range of compliance measures and sanctions.
These include non-approval of future ESCAS applications, and revocation of a licence to export livestock.
Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Operations (ESCAO)
The Export Control (Animals) Rules 2021 (the Animals Rules) came into effect on 28 March 2021. It allows exporters of feeder and slaughter livestock to demonstrate compliance with exporter supply chain assurance operations (ESCAS) requirements by using exporter supply chain assurance operations (ESCAO). These ESCAO are administered by third-party providers of assurance services under approved arrangements granted by the department.
Applicants for approved arrangements for ESCAO must apply using the form approved by the department for this purpose – the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Operations Approved Arrangement – new application, renewal and variations – and include in the proposed arrangement all information required by the Animals Rules and this application form. The department is finalising this application form for webpage publication. In the interim, please contact LAE.Compliance@agriculture.gov.au for all application form requests and submissions.