The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has described the Labor Party’s six-point animal welfare policy as bureaucracy and red tape that would deliver no real improvements to livestock wellbeing.
Announced this week by Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon, the policy’s measures include the establishment of an independent Office of Animal Welfare, the appointment of an independent Inspector-General of Animal Welfare, the renewal of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy and review of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS).
Chair of the NFF Animal Welfare Taskforce, Chris Groves, said the plan would yield no improvement in animal welfare standards but would burden the livestock supply chain, including consumers, with ineffective and highly costly red tape.
“We know that everyday Australians care about animal welfare and, make no mistake, farmers take the responsibility to look after their animals extremely seriously,” Mr Groves said.
“Happy animals are productive animals and caring for livestock is an everyday and extremely important part of life in agriculture.”
Mr Groves said the six-point plan was built on the fallacy government was best placed to lead improvements in animal welfare.
“If improving animal welfare is at the heart of Labor’s policy, this will not be achieved by employing more bureaucrats but will come from investing in those at the coalface of caring for livestock for a living.
“All political parties should be recognising the fundamental change in industry approaches to improving animal welfare and there are clear industry actions that demonstrate accountability to the Australian public.
“Rather than go down the traditional path of bureaucracy, why not invest in innovative ways to engage with industry on how the supply chain can even better demonstrate the good animal welfare work that is being undertaken?”
Research and development corporations invest every day in improving animal welfare.
The industry has acted to voluntarily phase out sow stalls, is investing heavily in pain relief solutions for certain husbandry practices and works cooperatively with the CSIRO to look at new ways to implement best practice and to strive towards continual improvement.
“The review of ESCAS would be an extremely costly and repetitive exercise given the review completed in 2015 and the Productivity Commission’s current enquiry into regulation of agriculture which includes a particular focus on ESCAS,” Mr Groves said.
“The NFF, and Australian agriculture, is committed to leading the world in animal welfare but we reject the notion this is best achieved through increased regulation.”