The Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) requires exporters’ to have commercial arrangements with supply chain partners (i.e. importers, feedlots, abattoirs) in importing countries to provide humane treatment and handling of livestock from arrival in the importing country up to the point of slaughter. ESCAS is underpinned by the following key principles – animal welfare, control and traceability – whereby the exporter must demonstrate, through a system of reporting and independent auditing:
- animal handling and slaughter meets World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) animal welfare standards (animal welfare)
- the exporter has control of all supply chain arrangements (including having agreements in place with supply chain partners) for the transport, management and slaughter of livestock, and that all livestock remain in the supply chain (control)
- the exporter can trace or account for all livestock through the supply chain (traceability).
If issues arise, ESCAS provides a mechanism to require exporters to address any non‑compliance matters within their supply chains. This may be managed by undertaking additional steps or corrective actions at facilities (for example delivering training, upgrading infrastructure), by removing non-compliant facilities from a supply chain, or by not exporting any further livestock to a non-compliant supply chain.
Additionally, the ESCAS regulatory framework enables the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to review and investigate reported non-compliance with ESCAS requirements and take regulatory action where appropriate. Reports are generally received through one of four pathways: third parties (for example, Animals Australia or private citizens in an importing country), industry, directly from exporters, or identified by the department itself. Reports are reviewed by the department using the Guideline for the management of non-compliance.
In response to an ESCAS non-compliance, the department may apply regulatory actions to an ESCAS supply chain or, in more serious instances, to an exporter or an entire market. This may include cancelling an ESCAS, varying an ESCAS to remove facilities or apply additional conditions (see section 3.2), cancelling or suspending an export licence, or reprimanding an exporter. Regulatory action is applied based on the nature of the non-compliance and level of associated risk, with any corrective actions implemented by the exporter to mitigate risks taken into consideration.
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