Live Export

Animal activists lead Australian farmers into a fight for respect

Sheep Central, March 13, 2024

ALEC CEO Mark Harvey-Sutton.

AUSTRALIAN agriculture is in a fight for respect, the leader of Australia’s peak livestock exporter body told the National Farmers Federation’s National Forum on Mental Health in Agriculture today.

In Melbourne, Australian Livestock Exports Council chief executive officer Mark Harvey-Sutton congratulated the NFF on putting on the forum and highlighting the importance of the issue.

“By attending today, we want to underscore the message that support is available for the wonderful people in our sector if you need it.

“It’s never a sign of weakness to acknowledge if you’re doing it tough,” Mr Harvey-Sutton said.

“Our industry is very proud of Australia’s agricultural sector and the people in it – and will stand beside you all the way.”

However, he said that the live export industry wanted to send a clear signal that the situation is not being helped by a sense amongst the sector that it is under attack by poor government policy which is leaving people feeling disregarded. This was made clear in today’s forum.

“In my role, I have the privilege of speaking with many farmers in addition to the livestock export industry that we represent, and I am saddened that many say they feel they are not appreciated or ignored – and in many cases, vilified,” he said.

“Our direct experience in this regard is the government’s activist driven policy to phase out live sheep exports.

“Repeatedly exporters, producers and local governments have outlined the facts about the devastating impact closure of this trade will have on lives and communities – yet these points are ignored in favour of blatant mistruths and disproven arguments put forward by anti-agriculture activist groups,” Mr Harvey-Sutton said.

“To add further insult, those that are brave enough to stand up and defend our industry are mercilessly trolled on social media by faceless activists or protesters who have been emboldened by the government’s policy.

“These activists regularly harass and troll farmers, stockpersons and other people who work with livestock. In any other industry, this vile behaviour would be called out, but it seems that once again, agriculture must fight for basic respect,” Mr Harvey-Sutton said.

“While we can only speak for our segment of the industry, we are seeing this replicated across a range of other agricultural policies.”

Mr Harvey-Sutton said in the general community there was a large amount of respect for the industry, particularly for farmers who supply overseas markets with high quality livestock.

“Australia’s farmers are the best in the world and are true professionals. While we need to tell their stories, they deserve to be listened to.”


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  1. Katrina Love, March 14, 2024

    ‘Mr Harvey-Sutton said in the general community there was a large amount of respect for the industry, particularly for farmers who supply overseas markets with high quality livestock.’

    I’m not sure what planet Harvey-Sutton is living on, but polls gauging support or otherwise for the live animal export trade have repeatedly shown, over the past 13 years at least, that the majority of Australians including those in rural areas and those in Western Australia and WA rural areas, support the end of live sheep exports.

    The sentiment expressed towards any “farmers” who knowingly send their “livestock” to live export is, at best, disdain and at worst, utter contempt.

    Whether Australian producers are or are not the best in the world is not being brought into question; this is about Australian sheep and cattle (mainly), foreign exporters making a profit (up to 500 percent profit in the case of live animals to Israel) and foreign-owned ships (except for the three Wellard-owned vessels) subjecting Australian animals to excessive transport, which is stressful at best, and (in most cases in relation to animals to the Middle East) fully conscious slaughter.

    The question is whether live animals can be transported long distances by sea and subjected to additional land-based transport to facilitate that sea transport without poorer welfare outcomes than they would face if slaughtered domestically.

    Certainly, their fully conscious slaughter in importing countries (for the majority of sheep leaving here) is a vastly poorer welfare outcome.

    Science, the expert opinion of hundreds of veterinarians and every animal protection organisation on the planet, as well as current and historical data and evidence says they cannot be humanely transported like this. In fact, it’s universally recognised that for the best welfare outcome, all animals should be slaughtered as close to “farm” as possible.

  2. Brendan Mahoney, March 13, 2024

    Can we get this printed word for word on the front page of the Age?
    Well said.
    Could have added a bit on the 2011 Gillard/Ludwig catastrophe.

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