Australia agrees to meet EU export standards

By Boyd Champness

AUSTRALIA will try to meet the European Unions controls on the identification, sale and processing of beef cattle in a bid to keep open its A$91 million (£37m) beef trade.

Earlier this month, the EUs veterinary committee asked the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) to provide answers on Australias soon-to-be-established National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS).

Australia responded last week and the EU is expected to decide before the end of the month whether to accept Australias commitment to improve its traceability and accreditation controls.

According to The Weekly Times, Australian producers will have to adopt a passport system for their cattle, similar to that operating in the EU, to record the history of each individual beast from birth to slaughter.

Farmers who breach accreditation requirements will face up to five years jail, the paper said.

Farmers angling for the European market will also have to sign a declaration guaranteeing that they do not use hormonal growth promotants (HGP) on their property.

According to the newspaper, the greatest impact will be on saleyards, which face a short-term ban on trading in cattle earmarked for the EU.

The rules prevent cattle from non-accredited properties being sold in the same saleyard as EU accredited cattle, even if the non-accredited cattle are HGP-free.

“What were trying to work on now is the possibility of saleyards having special days for non-HGP accredited cattle,” AQIS meat inspection director Brian Macdonald told The Weekly Times.

EU spokesman Jan de Kok was confident that an agreement would be reached with AQIS on Australias NLIS that addressed both parties concerns.

Although Australias beef exports to the EU account for only 1.5% of production – because quotas restrict sales – it is a high-value market and one Australia would not like to relinquish.

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