Live Export

Opinion: Mistruths and distortions don’t help the welfare of exported animals

Mick Keogh, Australian Farm Institute, 04/02/2014

There is no point in Australia's livestock industries trying to engage in useful dialogue with anti livestock-farming groups like Animals Australia, if the recent opinion piece by Dr. Malcolm Caulfield is an example of the approach to debate taken by that organisation and its supporters.

In response to an opinion piece about the relationship between Animals Australia and the ABC, Dr Caulfield authored an opinion piece which was published on Beef Central, (and also on the Animals Australia website). In his opinion piece, Dr Caulfield made the claim that the original article called for the discontinuation of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System – ESCAS – because it doesn't work.

This is a complete misrepresentation of what the original opinion piece stated, and begs the question of why Dr. Caulfield would make such an incorrect claim. The original opinion piece made the point that ESCAS imposes a higher standard on Australian livestock exporters than is applied anywhere else, in any form of agricultural trade. It also made the point that ESCAS actually imposes a higher standard on livestock exporters than applies in the Australian domestic market.

The fact that Australian livestock exporters have adopted this standard and are operating under it should be something for which the industry deserves praise, but unfortunately the only attention ever paid to it by groups like Animals Australia is to highlight apparent breaches of the code, and claim that is proof that the whole trade should be banned because ESCAS is not working.

As has been pointed out, this is the equivalent of banning all children from playing sport because some of them have sustained injuries, or banning all car travel because there has been a road fatality. The more sensible approach is to investigate why the problem occurred, and to try and implement improvements to reduce the risk of similar future problems.

Dr Caulfield's opinion piece was also critical of the claim that Animals Australia publishes incorrect or misleading information about the Australian livestock export trade. As has been pointed out in previous blog pieces on this site (see here, here and here), the 'information' provided on the Animals Australia website about the livestock export industry is either completely wrong, or highly misleading, and no correction has ever been made to this information which is used by Animals Australia to solicit donations.

Dr. Caulfield (who has previously worked for Animals Australia and is now a member of the Scientific Expert Advisory Council of the animal welfare organisation Voiceless) concludes his opinion piece by calling for a 'proper, well-informed balanced debate' about Australian livestock exports.

No-one involved in the livestock industry in Australia would object to that occurring, but it should be a debate based on facts, and can only start with the acknowledgement that Australia is a world leader in setting and implementing standards to improve animal welfare in destination markets, and the removal of Australia from these markets would result in a reduction in animal welfare standards in those markets.


This article was first published on the Australian Farm Institute website. To view the original post click here


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