Industry groups, the RSPCA and Government have highlighted the importance of animal welfare standards in giving consumers greater confidence in the livestock industry.
Speaking at the Outlook 2013 Conference in Canberra, ABARES Chief Economist Dr Michael Harris said Australia’s beef production is rising after five years of decline, and increased production for sheep meats, pig meat and poultry is projected over the medium term.
“That’s why it is becoming more important to maintain productivity growth, particularly in the livestock industries. For the last decade, growth in broadacre productivity has been underpinned by growth in the beef and sheep industries,” Dr Harris said.
“Higher global food demand, particularly for meats, will offer many opportunities for Australian producers. Increased productivity through investment in research and development, and improving access to markets, will be important for a successful future.”
Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Mark Schipp, Elders CEO Malcolm Jackman and RSPCA President Lynne Bradshaw also addressed the benefits of good animal welfare to the meat and livestock industry.
“Australia is a world leader in animal welfare. We invest in animal welfare because of the many benefits it brings to animals, the sustainability of our rural sector and to food security in our region of the world,” Dr Schipp said.
Elders CEO Malcolm Jackman said strong animal welfare standards was fundamental to the livestock industry.
“Strong standards and the humane treatment of livestock is fundamental to our business. They are foundations of the values, culture, policy and process that supports our business,” he said.
RSPCA National President Lynne Bradshaw said Australia’s efforts to lead on animal welfare meant the RSPCA was committed to working with the livestock industry to continually improve farm animal welfare.
“The RSPCA’s cooperation is based on our acceptance of the use of animals for the production of food and fibre. It reflects our longstanding views on a range of animal welfare issues in the livestock industry, and obviously informed by relevant animal welfare science.
“We recognise more beef cattle producers want to show consumers that their farms operate to high animal welfare standards. These same producers are approaching us for some kind of recognition for the work they are doing in this area,” Ms Bradshaw said.
With the theme of ‘Future food, future farming’, ABARES Outlook 2013 is currently being held in Canberra.