The livestock welfare journey must be guided by the facts.
Those of us in industry leadership positions do everything we can for producers, to ensure sustainable reform isn’t derailed by anti-farming ‘fake news’, or poorly informed political decision making.
Revelations about the conduct of Animals Australia in paying inducements for footage from livestock export vessels, smashes the activist organisation’s credibility.
Welfare failures anywhere in domestic or export supply chains are unacceptable, but so is unethical behaviour by extremists who undermine sustainable welfare reform.
When the context of any covert footage is considered, a basic responsibility of industry, government and the media is to fully understand the circumstances in which the footage was obtained. Healthy debate and good reform must be informed by the facts.
Cattle producers grew increasingly anxious last year, as Australia’s livestock export industry to the Middle East was turned on its head, in response to the Awassi Express footage.
The Federal Government’s snap suspension of the live cattle trade to Indonesia in 2011, will never be forgotten by the thousands of families whose livelihoods depend on live export.
The mums and dads employed in Australia’s cattle industry demand real leadership from industry and government, to ensure welfare reform is not hijacked by short-sighted political decisions, or derailed by anti-farming conspiracies to create fake news.
We are hopeful the release of the updated Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) is part of sustainable reform, enabling ongoing improvement in the live trade.
Proposed reforms to ASEL and new draft Heat Stress Risk Assessment rules, look set to radically reshape the live trade and very likely close certain sheep and cattle markets permanently.
Banning livestock export markets is wrong, regardless of whether it is a blanket closure or rendered unviable by crippling regulations.
Beyond the obvious local imperatives of keeping the trade open, we can’t ignore the international damage done whenever the future of Australia’s livestock export industry is cast in doubt.
Industry research and technology, much of it driven by producer levies, are enabling ongoing progress in supply chain control, traceability systems and welfare outcomes. This investment makes Australia the leader in the global livestock trade.