Cattle exporters have slammed a “slap on the wrist” penalty handed down to a livestock producer who falsified National Vendor Declaration information and applied incorrect NLIS tags on a consignment of dairy heifers to gain access to the premium-priced export trade to China.
The consignment was discovered and removed from a pre-export quarantine facility by Agriculture Victoria investigators in May 2019 before they were due to be shipped.
After entering an early guilty plea in the Sale Magistrates Court in Victoria last week the Maffra livestock producer was released on a two-year undertaking to be of good behaviour, and was ordered to pay costs of $135.82
Exporter Andy Ingle, managing director of Southern Australian International Livestock Exports, described the penalty as “farcical” and well short of what is required to deter similar behaviour in future.
He said whilst he had no direct knowledge of the specific case that was heard in court last week and could not comment on its specifically, he said the circumstances as reported were similar to an incident four years ago which led to the entire Goulburn Valley dairy region being locked out of supplying cattle to the lucrative Chinese export trade, the fallout from which continues today.
“Our industry just cannot afford for any wrongdoing, and, given the sensitivities politically with China, which we have seen across other agricultural spheres, we can’t afford for anyone to be doing the wrong thing and allow that to be used against what is a very important trade for the Australian dairy industry.”
Australian Livestock Exporters Council chief executive officer Mark Harvey-Sutton labelled the reported financial penalty of just $132.50 as “grossly inadequate”, given the market implications and cost to the supply chain that deliberate actions can cause.
“Accountability for industry systems extends to every point in the supply and if someone is caught doing the wrong thing, they should be subject to the full strength of the law,” he said.
Did you notice how the article consistently refers to "the law", trade, risks, and misreporting?
It's a good article. However, maybe it was also an opportunity to also include the purpose of the law, given the high public interest in the issue of live exports?
Doing so would also raise the question "is the law doing enough"? In turn, that segways in to a discussion about how modern law is expected to do more than just protect animals from cruelty. (www.sentientanimallaw.org