Vietnam adopts new Australian-style animal welfare standards at Hanoi beef cattle symposium

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Adam PoulsenCountryman
Nearly two million Brahman cattle have been exported to Vietnam from Australia in the past decade according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Camera IconNearly two million Brahman cattle have been exported to Vietnam from Australia in the past decade according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Credit: Alex Massey/WA News

Vietnam has implemented new animal welfare standards for cattle in a bid to bring its fast-growing beef industry in line with Australia’s.

The announcement was made at last week’s Australia-Vietnam Beef Cattle Symposium, held in Hanoi from November 13 to 15, with the new voluntary standards already available for adoption.

The standards apply to all cattle regardless of origin, but are consistent with those already governing the handling of Australian cattle imported into Vietnam under the Federal Government’s Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System.

LiveCorp chief executive Wayne Collier, who attended the symposium, said he was pleased to see Vietnam — the second biggest market for live Australian cattle — “embracing animal welfare”.

LiveCorp chief executive Wayne Collier.
Camera IconLiveCorp chief executive Wayne Collier. Credit: LiveCorp/RegionalHUB

“Australia is the only exporter of live animals requiring the industry to ensure animal welfare for exported livestock in destination countries meets — and surpasses — the guidelines set by the World Organisation for Animal Health,” Mr Collier said.

“Vietnam’s new standards will benefit local cattle by setting expectations for animal welfare in line with those for cattle imported from Australia.”

Mr Collier said Australian exporters had spent years building relationships, investing in training, and working with supply chain partners in Vietnam to “continually improve practices”.

“This has provided an opportunity to start conversations that otherwise may not have happened for some time, including actively raising awareness of animal welfare and sharing the knowledge gained from decades of supporting beef operations across South-East Asia,” he said.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture spent three years developing the new standards in consultation with industry stakeholders as well as national and provincial government officials.

Information campaigns and training resources were delivered with support from a $135,000 grant from the Australian Government, and via LiveCorp and MLA’s Livestock Export Program.

The program provides in-market professional development and training for workers in feedlots and abattoirs, in a bid to support market access and regulatory compliance.

MLA Asia Pacific market development manager Spencer Whitaker said Vietnam’s cattle industry had “grown significantly and modernised rapidly” since it started importing Australian cattle.

“People have become more aware of animal welfare, and it has been a pleasure to work alongside the Vietnamese Government to share the body of knowledge gained by the Australian industry,” he said.

Nearly two million Australian cattle have been exported to Vietnam in the past decade according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

While the country had imported Australian cattle in relatively small volumes for decades, the trade kicked off in earnest in 2013, when 66,953 head were shipped — up from just 3353 a year earlier.

That figure skyrocketed to 181,561 head in 2014 and peaked at 365,515 in 2015, before dropping significantly last year, when Australia shipped just 55,989 cattle to Vietnam.

The trade picked back up again this year, with more than 102,000 head shipped up to November.

Griffith University Associate Professor and symposium project leader, Dominic Smith, said the event had sparked “a number of enquiries” from both Vietnamese and Australian traders.

“Of course it is early days yet, but it is a sign of interest from both sides in reinvigorating the trade,” he said.

Other attendees included Australia’s Ambassador to Vietnam, Andrew Goledzinowski, and representatives of Meat and Livestock Australia and the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council.

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