RECOGNITION that sustainability needs to be economically and socially sound as much as it is about the environment came through loud and clear when a senior staffer from the world’s largest conservation organisation spoke at a major beef forum in Northern NSW last week.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) global commodity leader beef, Ian McConnel, told producers at the 2017 Yulgilbar Beef Expo, held at the Myer family’s cattle property near Grafton, that the path to saving the planet could not be via just one or another of those three things.
“If we don’t take producers’ advice on what is sustainable production that allows them to be productive we won’t get environmental sustainability,” he said.
“You can’t be green if you’re in the red.
“Likewise, if production is only for profit, and it doesn’t take into account environmental and social impacts, it won’t be there for the long term either.
“It’s not about saying where the fault is, it’s about looking for the way to fix it.
“What do we do to ensure farming systems can remain but are not having a negative impact.”
A fifth generation cattle producer from South East Queensland, Mr McConnel spent 10 years as an extension officer with the Queensland Department of Primary Industry.
In an interesting twist, when he made the shift to WWF’s Australia branch his first job title was exactly the same as the one he had at the DPI: sustainable beef co-ordinator.
His message for producers was that WWF knows it can’t reach its goals by itself, is not negative to beef production and wants to work together.
In fact, the organisation’s line was now that beef production, in places, needed to be intensified.
The first point Mr McConnel made was that WWF is not an animal welfare organisation, rather “purely an environment organisation”.
It is active in 110 countries, working to save natural systems.
WWF recognises the need to maintain profitable agriculture.
“We have a growing population globally who need to be fed and clothed,” he said.
“We are not talking about managing the environment at the expense of beef production.
“But like most beef producers, we believe production shouldn’t come at the expense of the environment.”