OF the 130 nations that export livestock, Australia has the highest standards of animal welfare.
But it’s not a statistic you will read on the social media pages or websites of animal rights groups working to shut the trade down, Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie noted as she addressed the LIVEXchange conference in Townsville on Wednesday afternoon.
The comment captured the sense of ongoing frustration many livestock producers and export industry stakeholders say they feel in that the significant emphasis the industry places on animal welfare, and multi-millions of dollars of investment that underpin the Australian industry’s world leading standards, is a side of the industry the broader public rarely, if ever, sees.
However, work is underway to change that.
A group of young industry stakeholders has been working to proactively give the general public a direct view of their industry, firstly with the launch of The Sheep Collective earlier this year, and now, the Cattle Collective, launched by Minister McKenzie this afternoon in Townville.
Both initiatives are designed to share directly with the public the stories of people actively involved in the live sheep export industry, including producers, truck drivers, stock people, industry bodies, exporters and importers, and to share accurate information about the industry.
A video created by young sheep export veterinarian Dr Holly Ludeman to kick off The Sheep Collective earlier this year struck an obvious chord with members of the public, racing to exceed 90,000 views within weeks of its release.
The Sheep Collective has since organised several events which have involved inviting representatives from media, Government and other public groups onto live export vessels and into stock yards to show them first hand the standards under which Australia’s livestock export industry operates.
The Cattle Collective launched today will follow in a similar vein.
“That’s the best thing I’ve seen in years,” one North Queensland cattle producer commented aloud after a two-minute video launching The Cattle Collective (below) was broadcast to the LIVEXchange conference in Townsville on Wednesday afternoon.
When filming for launching The Cattle Collective today the question that inspired some of the most insightful and passionate responses was “do you think The Cattle Collective is important?” Unscripted, unrehearsed, these are their answers. #thecattlecollective#LIVEXchange19 pic.twitter.com/LDX0SCb3M0
— The Cattle Collective (@cattle_the) October 30, 2019
Miniser McKenzie said The Sheep Collective and The Cattle Collective made it possible for the industry to engage with people who have no idea what you do and who have never been on a farm.
“This is the sort of myth busting and transparency needed for the community to understand the cattle industry and the lengths that you go to to ensure that stock are treated with care,” she said.
“The great news is that we’re not just exporting our fabulous livestock to the worl, we’re exporting our animal welfare standards too.
“We’re leading the world in doing the right thing.”
She said the high standing of Australia’s livestock export industry globally was something Australia should be proud of.
In the face of a growing number of people ‘in Oxford Street in Sydney and Burke Street in Melbourne’ who wanted to shut livestock production down full-stop, it was vital that the industry share its story.
“The positive stories of your industry need to be told by you and they need to be heard not just by the people in this room, not just by the National Party, not just by rural and regional Australians.
“So we need to be clear in our purpose and intent and crystal clear in how we communicate the positive impact that you and your industry play.
“And I commend those in the room who are already working very hard to promote the good work of how you care for export livestock.”
Co-founders of The Cattle Collective, John Cunnington and Dr Holly Ludeman, are advocates for the live export industry and are dedicated to empowering young professionals in the industry to use their voices and demonstrate leadership.
Veterinarian Dr Ludeman, who has experience in Australia and in importing countries, said achieving good animal welfare outcomes was a daily responsibility for those involved in the industry.
“Strong animal welfare systems are something our critics, the wider community and our industry demands,”Dr Ludman said.
“Providing real stories and voices is absolutely essential to establishing trust with the community and we can make lasting change when people share a vision and work together.
“I’m proud to be working in an industry that is constantly improving.”
Mr Cunnington is the Director of Australian Livestock Exporters Council and Chair of Young Livestock Exporters Network.
“The Cattle Collective will provide information from real people working across Australia and the world to help provide accurate insights about the care and systems that underpin our live export industry,” Mr Cunnington said.
“I’m passionate about showcasing the professional logistical supply chain that is the real live export industry.
“This industry has so much to be proud of and has a bright future.”
The Cattle Collective includes a website at www.thecattlecollective.com.au. People can also connect through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
For more information about the LIVEXchange conference go to www.livexchangeconference.com.au.