AgForce has welcomed the third annual update for the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework (ABSF) as celebrating the industry’s significant achievements, but noted that it needs to tell this good news story better.
AgForce Cattle President Will Wilson said the industry was extremely proud of its achievements in recent years, particularly in terms of lowering carbon emissions and improving animal welfare.
“Cattle properties covered by a biosecurity plan have risen from a quarter to 90 per cent, carbon emissions have been reduced by 57 per cent since 2005, and pain relief is being adopted as a standard tool,” Mr Wilson said.
“Producers have shown great resilience in achieving these successes, considering the numerous challenges they face, including ongoing drought, 2019’s disastrous floods and fires, and now COVID-19.
“The Framework provides the evidence base upon which customers can continue to trust us to look after what is important to them, voluntarily and without unnecessary regulation.
“As we look to further refine the reporting, we need to focus more on the positives this great industry has to offer and the story we have to tell. We care for our land, our cattle, our workforce, and our community.
“For example, the report misses the mark in terms of our great carbon story. Although the reduction in our carbon footprint is impressive, we need to stop being defensive and apologetic about emissions and instead focus on our achievements and aspirations in assisting the community by storing carbon in the landscape.
“However, we also need maximum involvement of grass-roots producers, as environment stewards to ensure that the indicators reflect the best environmental outcomes on the ground.
“We need greater focus on transparent credible data collection and sound metrics – industry needs to progress and do its ‘homework’ better. It is vital this part of the puzzle is properly resourced for the years to come.
“We need to enable grass-roots producers to grasp opportunities and tackle the challenges ahead of us to ensure we can continuously improve.
“The Framework should continue to demonstrate the importance of economic resilience to our industry as sustainability is a consequence of a long-term profitable beef business.
“Whilst some of the feedback we have provided in the last 12 months has been embraced by the Steering Group, there are some critical metrics where producers have a positive impact on the environment, which need to be measured and reported in the years to come.
“AgForce welcomes the promised increased focus in industry engagement in 2020 and will hold the Steering Group accountable in achieving this engagement.
“The Framework identifies the issues most important to our end customers and other key stakeholders. With a transparent report of what we have done to date, the ability to proudly tell that story, and clarity on what we need to work on, we have a clear roadmap and framework to continue to develop and grow this great industry.
“Therefore, we look forward to working with the Steering Group in the year ahead.”
AgForce General President Georgie Somerset participated in a discussion panel at the official launch of the ABSF at the Rural Press Club Zoom luncheon today.