Live Export

ALEC slams RSPCA over ‘shallow and misguided’ campaign

James Nason, 21/04/2015

Mainstream animal welfare organisation the RSPCA has been accused of using misleading tactics more commonly associated with extreme animal rights groups in a new campaign against the livestock export trade.

In a media release issued yesterday the RSPCA claims to expose the “real story” about live exports.

The primary basis of its campaign is that the livestock export trade is worth much less to Australia’s national economy – $900 million a year according to figures used by the RSPCA – than the processed meat export trade, which generates $6.8 billion a year.

The RSPCA makes the claim that Government and livestock export industry representatives “have been trying to convince Australians for years” that the live export trade is the “main game” for Australian producers.

“The real story shows that it simply is not true,” the RSPCA says.

But livestock export industry leaders say they have never claimed live exports are the “main game” for Australian producers, and believe the RSPCA is deliberately trying to mislead the public.

“The live trade has never made such a claim and has no basis for saying so,” Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council chief executive officer Alison Penfold said.

“What the trade has said is that it helps underpin price to producers, a claim substantiated by a number of studies produced and seen in practical effect in cattle and sheep markets across the country over recent years.

“The headline statistics also don’t match apples with apples as they include markets which the live trade does not export to (the US and EU), or has only a breeder trade (China), nor recognise the self-suspension of Egypt and Bahrain by exporters in the interests of welfare.”

In making its case that live exports are of little significance to the Australian economy, the RSPCAalso  states that livestock exports have declined by 41pc since 2009, while meat exports have increased by 34pc during the same period.

While sheep export volumes have declined since 2009, cattle exports last year exceeded one million head, well above the 950,000 head exported in 2009 – which at the time was a record.

In response to Beef Central’s questions about the accuracy of its statements in relation to live exports, the RSPCA replied that it is “of the view that it is time producers and decision makers were reminded that the meat export trade is much, much bigger than the live animal export industry”.

“The long term trend for the export of live cattle and sheep is in decline,” an RSPCA spokesperson said.

“Meat exports is the market that most Australian producers currently service and is the future for Australia, Australian farmers and their livestock.

“Transitioning to a meat-only trade will protect Australian animals from long, cruel and unnecessary journeys and suffering overseas.”

ALEC’s Alison Penfold has described the RSPCA’s latest campaign as a “shallow and misguided attempt to manipulate public opinion”, and one that only weakened the RSPCA’s credibility as an objective arbiter of animal welfare.

“It is disappointing to see such a hack job, usually the purview of activists, become mainstream for RSPCA,” Ms Penfold said.

In contrast to the figures quoted by the RSPCA, Ms Penfold said that Australian livestock exports have grown since 24pc since first full year of the rollout of the Export Supply Chain Assurance system in 2012.

“So not only have we been able to grow the trade, we have done so while improving the welfare of Australian and local livestock in the markets we operate.

“I would think this would be an important point for RSPCA to consider given their interests in animal welfare.”

“Only the live trade does this (improves animal welfare in export markets) through our on the ground investment in training and infrastructure and has demonstrated to do so.

“The upshot is that not only has there been a growth in the live trade there has been a significant increase in better treatment of livestock around the world.”

She said the livestock export trade supported over 10,000 jobs across rural and regional Australia, contributed over $1.2 billion to the national economy, and had trained 7500 people in proper animal welfare practices in over 900 feedlots and abattoirs in 19 export markets.

Ms Penfold said that while ALEC prefers a constructive relationship with RSPCA and not a “slanging match” over this latest campaign, a number of the claims made could not go unchallenged.

“For starters their campaign in essence is based on an argument that Governments should pick winners based on export volume alone.

“That line of argument would rule out any Government encouragement and support for the vast majority of agricultural industries in this country that export significantly less export product than the meat processing sector, but still play a vital economic and social role in communities around the country.”



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  1. Wendy Dugmore, 01/05/2015

    The Australian government is simply not doing enough to protect the welfare of animals. Thank God for the RSPCA and other animal welfare organisations, because if it wasn’t for them there probably wouldn’t be any investigations or campaigns!

  2. Lee Clarke, 30/04/2015

    Got to love the good well meaning folk who live in Pixie Land trying to make
    a very complex world simple “just ban live exports”and its that simple and we all went on to live happily ever after??? These are the same Lefty Greenies who think that the world right today can just turn off coal fired powered stations and go to renewable energy???These are the same Pixies who also think all heavy road transport should be taken off the road and replaced by rail??? Very light on logic and never a realistic alternate solution.

  3. Jonathan Petering, 27/04/2015

    Its the same every time Greg.

  4. Greg Herrmann, 24/04/2015

    I see the Animal Rights/Greens supporters are clogging up the posts again.
    Must be paying them per post. No doubt working on the principle if you print rubbish long enough someone may eventually believe it true.

  5. Trish Long, 23/04/2015

    You’re all missing the point here! Animals are not commodities as you would all like to think. They are living, breathing creatures that feel fear and pain. They are suffering time after time after time, needlessly, by being exported live. Live export should STOP!

  6. Sandie Rawnsley, 22/04/2015

    How can an animal welfare group that was founded to prevent cruelty to animals fail to condemn the live export trade? The journey from farm to slaughterhouse in the livex trade is too long and too tortuous to be anything other than cruel. ESCAS regulations have been shown time and again to be inadequate in protecting the welfare of the animals. The RSPCA is right to call for a transition to an expanded domestic meat processing industry in Australia – keep the animals and the jobs here.

  7. Katrina Love, 22/04/2015

    Natasha – I can only assume you mean the five-week suspension of live cattle trade to Indonesia when you refer to the “live export ban” – that would be the five-week suspension STILL being blamed for just about every producer’s every woe, past, present and future.

    I would love for you to explain to everyone how a five week suspension caused more damage than the low Aussie dollar, the severe droughts, the bush fires, the 350 kg upper limit imposed by Indonesia and the fact that they cut quotas from 750,000 head to 420,000 head in the two year PRIOR to the suspension that were ALL in play when the suspension was imposed. It exacerbated the situation, certainly, and added to what was already a bad situation, but given supply can barely keep up with demand now, I think it’s drawing a long bow to keep blaming a five-week hiatus in cattle trade to Indonesia four years ago,for current business woes.

  8. Natasha Wing, 22/04/2015

    Good point Trish, they also don’t mention that there are farming business that are STILL trying to recover from the export ban due to negative impacts including the flood on the southern markets.

  9. Trish Brown, 21/04/2015

    What a shame that Alison Penfold spokesperson for smart ALEC repeatedly parrots the importance of the live trade using OLD STATISTICS about jobs it creates in Australia…Yes I have read both Hassel Reports that have been published in favour of live export and the way they manipulated the figures to make the claims that the live trade employs 10.000 jobs in Australia.
    She and the Industry NEVER gives any figures for the MILLIONS of jobs and wealth it creates for overseas countries/importers/ slaughterhouses and holding yards which are financially topped up nearly every year by the Australian taxpayer, per favour of all previous and current Federal Governments.

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