Queensland abattoirs hit with thousands in Halal certification fees

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Abattoirs in Queensland are having to fork out up to $27,000 per month for Halal certification, money which is allegedly being used to fund Islamic schools and mosques.

The allegations that Halal certifiers must donate a share of their revenue to  mosques and Islamic schools has stopped a significant number of Queensland’s Halal meat exports to Indonesia, resulting in affected abattoir operators boycotting the expensive Halal certifiers endorsed by Indonesia’s top Islamic body, The Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI), The Courier Mail reports.

Halal certifiers must be accredited by MUI and the organisation only approves one certifier per state or territory.

One Queensland processor stated that it had been quoted $27,000 per month in Halal certification fees through a MUI-endorsed certifier – almost four times the amount that the Brisbane-based Australian Halal Food Services (AHFS) organisation charges.

The AHFS had its accreditation authority suspended by MUI for allegedly engaging in “unfair competition” that could potentially ‘weaken’ the Halal certification movement.

In addition, a Melbourne company Australian Halal Authority and Advisers (AHAA), was deregistered for allegedly operating without a current permit, and the Adelaide Mosque Islamic Society was suspended by the MUI for failing to pay its US $1,000 membership fee.

Stephen Kelly, general manager of industry affairs for Japanese-owned meat packer, Nippon Meat said that its Queensland abattoirs that relied on the AHFS for certification were now unable to sell Halal meat in Indonesia.

“Indonesia is still an important market and we would be keen to have a resolution of this,” said Kelly.

The federal Department of Agriculture said that while it  has no power over the approvals for religious certifiers, it was determined to work with the MUI to resolve any issue that affect trade.

"The Australian government values our close relationship with MUI and will continue to work together with MUI to overcome issues that affect the mutually beneficial trade in red meat to Indonesia," said a spokesperson for the department.