NORTHERN Territory Cattlemen’s Association President David Warriner is bitterly disappointed by the media prominence afforded to the RSPCA’s calls to ban sheep and cattle saleyards over the past week.
Mr Warriner is also disillusioned by the RSPCA’s current direction, saying they wanted to “shut down everything” at the moment, “but where does it stop?”.
He said in his view, the RSPCA’s mission had changed from being focused on animal welfare issues into an animal rights organisation.
Mr Warriner said the RSPCA was a great organisation when it was purely focussed on animal welfare issues - but he had concerns about its charter changing more towards animal activism.
In general, he said animal rights groups were adding more red tape and bureaucracy to industry, to gradually apply increased commercial pressures which could make the trade unviable.
“These people are getting more and more power all of the time,” he said.
“The industry has to be careful we don’t give up infrastructure and give away policy every time, because if we’re not careful we’ll have no industry.
“And that’s ultimately what these activists want and when you see proposals like this to ban saleyards, it’s hard not to believe the RSPCA is any different.
“There have been all sorts of changes at the RSPCA lately that are not in anyone’s interests or even in their own interests.”
Mr Warriner said the RSPCA may have received funding somewhere which has altered their role and increased focus on pushing issues like banning live exports and sale yards.
He said it wasn’t appropriate to advocate for shutting down an entire industry when the vast majority of it was doing the right thing.
“There are some issues with saleyards but most of what we do around animal welfare is 99pc right, just like the live export industry and that’s why government supports it,” he said.
“When you deal with animal welfare you have to deal with the welfare of the animals all of the time and it doesn’t matter you’re dealing with ducks and chooks or cattle.”
Mr Warriner said animal rights groups had a moral agenda to stop people eating meat and therefore their views on issues like closing saleyards and banning live exports needed to be treated with extreme caution.
“The world is short of protein now but if you stop people eating meat all the cows will only get older and then die of old age,” he said.
“I’m sure many of these people who oppose sale yards or live exports have never seen an animal die of old age in a bog hole and have its eyes picked out by crows.”
Mr Warriner said saleyards had been operating for 150 to 200 years and undergone continued improvements in terms of management practices, infrastructure standards and animal welfare outcomes.
He said the option of using computers to hold virtual sales had not been well taken up by industry over time and would never be an adequate replacement for live physical sales.
Mr Warriner said the description of the livestock that someone buys and what someone sells over the internet were often not often the same.
But internet sales are a good tool which provides producers and others with more options.
Like car sales or even internet dating, he agreed people are best served using a combination of both options and make their final commercial decisions in person.
He said it was inaccurate for the RSPCA to say added transport movements of live stock to sales and mustering only increased the animals’ stress levels.
That view ignored the fact saleyards can be a “spelling mechanism”, whereby livestock are also well watered and rested.
Mr Warriner said saleyards used to be more social than they are now, for country people to gather, but were still a priority for industry.
He said people had less time to spare and often did their business at the sale and then left within an hour, given they also generally travelled long distances.
He said sales were also more infrequent and more professional nowadays, leaving less time for social interaction.