Approximately forty-three percent of Australian agricultural production relates to production animal industries. The major contributors to the production animal sector incorporate beef and veal, dairy, sheep meat, wool, chicken meat, eggs and pigs.
There is a wide diversity of production systems for these industries with free range enterprises and more intensive systems operating to meet global demand and underpin viable domestic industries.
CountryMinded is committed to all forms of production animal industry and will support policies that:
- enforce the highest standards of animal welfare in production systems based on robust science-based objective best management assessment parameters
- advocate for the provision of ongoing research and extension to optimise the efficiency and welfare outcomes from agricultural animal productions systems
- implement truth in labelling legislation for imported products that state clearly whether or not the product has been produced in compliance with Australian production standards
- promote the value and importance of production animal industries and the people who operate enterprises within these sectors
- provide financial incentives for early intervention by extensive graziers to underpin animal welfare in adverse weather cycles and protect the productive capacity of the land that supports the animal production system
- protect the rights of farmers to farm without unwarranted interference
- protect extensive grazing enterprises from prosecution for events that are beyond their control and where reasonable mitigation has been undertaken
- block imports of animal products not produced under the same production restrictions as Australian products
- commit to the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy to ensure national harmonisation of regulation to provide more robust and defendable science based standards for production animal welfare
While we recognise there are incidents where animal welfare standards are not well met, overwhelmingly farmers are commercially and emotionally committed to the wellbeing of the animals in their care.
One of the most diabolical conundrums in animal welfare management occurs in open grazing industries that are inherently more exposed to welfare risk through adverse weather than intensive livestock enterprises. Low input and less intensive production systems have less capacity to manage animal welfare when rainfall deficits occur and pasture conditions deteriorate to be below animal maintenance condition. Furthermore the increased pressure on pasture systems in seasonal downturns has longer term impacts on overall productivity of the pasture systems delivering a longer term environmental impact.
There are strong financial motivators for all farmers to treat animals well and optimise feed conversion efficiencies. Sick or distressed animals do not perform well and a farmer cannot derive an income from animals that die in on farm. These statements are fundamental to the notion that it is in a farmer’s financial interest to ensure their animals are not distressed within the production system.
Further to this financial driver, most farmers farm because they have a strong emotional bond to the land and their work. The retention of people in agriculture is more heavily dependent on a sense of doing something worthwhile and valuable than on financial reward alone. Most farmers take pride in the work they do and care about the animals and environment in their charge. This commitment must be respected.
CountryMinded is opposed to the subjective assessment of animal welfare deployed by some interest groups. Similarly the intrusion by animal activists onto legitimate farming businesses is unacceptable. In the same circumstance the coordinated and uninformed demonization of intensive and extensive animal production systems must be challenged politically and legally. CountryMinded is committed to informed discourse that is intended to identify genuine solutions, and where the financial imposition of their introduction is shared and not just another cost burden at the farm gate.
Australian farmers need every tool available to ethically maximise production efficiencies and maintain global competitiveness while still meeting the ongoing and increasing social expectation around food and fibre supply. The imposition of subjective censures on Australian animal production systems does not improve global animal welfare situations and is not reflected consistently in censures against competing imported products.
It is essential that farmers are able to operate their enterprise in good faith and with undue interference.