Australian farming leaders say the release of a report that highlights 50 animal welfare incidents since 2009 shows Australia’s animal welfare reporting system is working.
The Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries released reports last Friday on 50 animal welfare incidents within Australia from 2009-2011, involving 915 animals.
Victorian Farmers Federation president Peter Tuohey said the incidents were serious and every farmer and transport operator had a duty of care to the livestock they handled.
“The Victorian Farmers Federation takes animal welfare issues very seriously. No-one wants to see animals suffer unnecessarily,” VFF President Peter Tuohey said.
“The fact that 50-odd incidents were picked up shows the reporting system is working, which is important because farmers care about animal welfare.
“But let’s put it in context – Australian farmers sent 102 million cattle and sheep to abattoirs in the three years these reports cover. That doesn’t even include figures for pigs, goats and other livestock.”
The National Farmers Federation said Australia’s animal welfare system requires that any reported incidents or animal welfare concerns are passed on to the relevant State and Territory Government authorities for investigation.
The peak farming body said the documents released by DAFF show that reported incidents were passed on to the appropriate regulatory authority for investigation or action; and that anyone in the supply chain who was found to have acted against animal welfare laws was sanctioned.
“This shows that our system is working,” NFF president Jock Laurie said.
“Farmers, like all within the agricultural supply chain, are governed by State and Territory legislation regarding animal welfare – and we take breaches of these laws very seriously.
“Most importantly, we also care about the animals that we raise on our farms. That is why we continue to work proactively and collaboratively with Governments and the community on animal welfare – as we have been doing for many years – ensuring continuous improvements.
“Ensuring that we have a system in place to identify and appropriately act on any potential animal welfare issues is essential. And, as these documents show, this is occurring.
“In addition to State legislation, this system also includes the Model Codes of Practice for the treatment of farm animals, which are being converted into new Standards and Guidelines; ensuring regulations around animal welfare are more consistent across the country.
“Ensuring a national, collaborative approach to animal welfare is one of the reasons the NFF was heavily involved in the development of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy, along with other agricultural bodies and animal welfare organisations, like the RSPCA.
“We remain an active participant in this process, ensuring our animal welfare practices are continually improved and monitored, and any issues are dealt with accordingly,” Mr Laurie said.
From July 1, Australia will progressively introduce new legally enforceable animal welfare standards and guidelines for livestock transport.
Effectively, under the national system, existing voluntary Livestock Transport Standards will become law, which means that farmers and freight carriers can be fined if unfit animals are transported.