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Livestock supply chain back in the spotlight

21 April 2020

#Transport, Shipping & Logistics

Published by Rebecca Niumeitolu

Livestock supply chain back in the spotlight

According to Meat and Livestock Australia’s 2019 State of the Industry Report, between 2017 and 2018, the red meat and livestock industry in Australia accounted for the direct or indirect employment of about 404,800 people. Moreover, exports of red meat and livestock were valued at $13.7 billion.

Needless to say, this significant industry relies heavily on on-road transport to keep its wheels-a-turnin’ and with that the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has determined in March to keep its eye on industry practices around compliance with the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) by calling for submissions to its issues paper, improving awareness and practices in the livestock supply chain.

It is certainly not the first time the red meat and livestock industry has been called into the regulatory spotlight. In July 2018, the NVHR issued an Effluent Load Restraint Consultation Report to manage effluent in on-road transport. In late 2019 the NVHR announced that it was going to review heavy vehicle safety around NSW saleyard.

The current issues paper takes on a new flavour, focusing on industry understandings of HVNL obligations, in particular mass obligations. The NVHR identifies that the review has arisen as a result of a series of livestock mass breach incidents, apparently related to the transportation of sheep and cattle. It also appears it has arisen off the back of concerns around:

  • the lack of industry awareness of HVNL obligations and the mistaken belief that transport operators bear the burden of ensuring compliance
  • drivers feeling pressured to transport full loads of livestock contrary to mass obligations
  • the lack of adequate equipment and practices across industry to ensure compliance with mass obligations
  • industry’s reliance on inconsistent or inaccurate information about livestock being loaded onto heavy vehicles
  • industry’ reliance on experience to determine how livestock should be loaded rather than preparing loading plans or adequately training loaders and drivers as to their loading and mass compliance obligations
  • industry’s significant reliance on road transport in supply chains notwithstanding insufficient safety measures around stakeholder’s transport activities. For example the NVHR identifies that The average journey of livestock form farm gate to processor is estimated to be over 500kmand can involve numerous stops.

Key players in the supply chain that play a role in influencing CoR compliance practices include:

  • primary producers – they tend to be consignors, loaders and/or loading managers in the CoR of the livestock supply chain
  • saleyard and livestock agents – they tend to play a role as loader and/or loading manager
  • feedlots and abattoirs – they may constitute unloaders, loaders and/or loading managers
  • livestock transport operators – they may take on various CoR roles including as operators, contractors, employers of drivers, loaders and/or unloaders
  • exporter – they may be loaders, unloaders, loading managers and sometimes consignors identified on transport documentation. 

The NVHR says that the focus of its review will be to identify each party’s understanding of their roles and responsibilities in the transport supply chainand to Review the decision-making process and influencing factors for loading, transporting and reviewing livestock”.

Questions posed by page 11 of the NVHR’s issues paper include:

  • “what are the key issues that have not been identified in this issues paper in relation to livestock supply chain practices?”
  • “what approach would you recommend to improve stakeholder awareness of regulatory responsibilities under the HVNL in the livestock supply chain?”
  • “what do you believe to be reasonably practical measures and processes to meet your regulatory responsibilities under the HVNL?”
  • “what other tools/education/equipment/technology would be practiced and help parties to meet their regulatory responsibilities under the HVNL?”
  • “what loading practices would you recommend to improve your understanding of your mass management risk?”
  • “how is your HVNL responsibility impacted by other participants in the livestock supply chain?”
  • “what additional steps could the NHVR take to encourage participants of the livestock supply chain to meet their regulatory responsibilities under the HVNL?”
  • “what risk mitigation strategy to better manage mass can be offered that has not been identified in this issues paper?”

The NVHR anticipates that through submissions on its issues paper it will be able to evaluate current industry practices and risk mitigation strategies to better manage CoR party responsibilities under the HVNL. Strategies may include online inductions and signage informing attendants at saleyards of their various HVNL obligations. It may also involve a roll out of training programs by the NVHR much like those we saw in the broader agriculture industry.

Those interested to see industry input and strategies around effluent management will have to hold tight, as the review will exclude consideration of effluent management, loading schemes, legislative reform and fatigue.

What next?
Interested stakeholders should submit their submissions on the issues paper to the NHVR by 5 pm AEDT, 24 April 2020.

Author: Rebecca Niumeitolu 

* This article was originally published in CoR Adviser. The article is © 2020 Portner Press Pty Ltd and has been reproduced with permission of Portner Press.

The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this newsletter is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.

Published by Rebecca Niumeitolu

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