LIVE animal export supporter the Livestock Collective has been called out for trading on the reputation of the broader Australian livestock sector and claiming it is not a lobby group for the trade.
When Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt last month reiterated the Federal Government’s plans to phase out the live sheep trade, the Livestock Collective activated a media communications, education and fund-raising plan.
“Despite Minister Watt’s reaffirmed commitment to phasing out the live sheep trade, we want to reiterate that our efforts to challenge this position will not cease.
“Whilst we are not a lobbying group, we do exist to ensure everyone has access to real, transparent insights into the industry so that informed decisions can be made,” the collective said in an email detailing how industry stakeholders could subscribe to support its activities.
“The future of the live sheep trade is being challenged so it is critical that our media assets are updated and reflective of an industry that has reformed.
“Animal activist groups continually recycle out-dated material, particularly of sheep live export, which is not reflective of the industry today,” the collective said.
“It is our role to ensure the general community has access to the real, authentic story that demonstrates just how far we have come.”
The collective outlined its core activities and detailed “key messages” in support of the trade and to give media outlets “some talking points to unite our industry messaging”.
“If you want to help us continue doing the work we do, you can invest in The Livestock Collective by joining as a paid subscriber. Every little bit helps.”
The collective said its activities include conducting vessel tours with media, politicians, students, general public, service providers (e.g. banks and insurance), farmers and stock agents; engaging the supply chain and promote collaboration; using speaking engagement opportunities to promote the industry and “curating targeted social media campaigns that demonstrate why live sheep export should not only stay, but grow!”
“We are responding to questions, showcasing the whole supply chain and telling the stories from real people whose livelihood is impacted by live sheep export.”
The collective has at least three live sheep vessel tours scheduled before the Northern Summer moratorium and hosts a VR ship tour that takes on board a vessel.
If it quacks like a lobby group it probably is a lobby group
However, Alliance for Animals policy director Dr Jed Goodfellow said: “If it looks like a lobby group and quacks like a lobby group, it probably is a lobby group.”
“The Livestock Collective may not call itself one, but there’s no doubt it places a lot of time and effort on attempting to influence public officials.
“They’re perfectly entitled to do this, but they should be upfront about it.”
Dr Goodfellow said the Livestock Collective is effectively a lobby group for the live sheep export trade that’s trading off the good name and reputation of the broader Australian livestock sector.
“Its origins can be traced back to Emanuel Exports.
“It created the Sheep Collective in the wake of the Awassi Express disaster as the company was facing criminal prosecution for animal cruelty – and still is – and the trade was embroiled in an existential crisis,” he said.
“These are not the best origins for an organisation whose mission is to build the social licence of Australia’s livestock sector.
“It’s strategy is also fundamentally flawed,” Dr Goodfellow said.
“Trying to put a positive spin on practices that cause pain, distress and suffering to animals will never work in the long-term as the truth always finds a way of coming out.
“Industry could spend millions of dollars ‘educating’ the public about the need for certain practices, but all of this can be undone with a 2 minute video clip depicting distressed and dying animals,” he said.
“Such funding would be far better spent on moving away from harmful practices.
“That’s a story which would resonate with the Australian community,” Dr Goodfellow said.
“Unfortunately for the live sheep export trade, the welfare issues are so inherent and intractable that lobbying public officials is all it has left.”
Collective is focussed on growing public understanding
When asked why the collective claimed it is not a lobby group, Livestock Collective program manager Amelia (Milly) Nolan said the collective is a not-for-profit organisation focused on growing the public understanding of agriculture and providing a united voice for the livestock supply chain.
“We provide first-hand information from real people working around Australia in the livestock industry to provide a balanced view of modern practices along the supply chain to the wider community.
“In response to the government’s policy to phase out live sheep exports, The Livestock Collective is further activating a communications and education plan to ensure voices of the supply chain are represented in the media and on social media,” she said.
“Our organisation is built around ‘filling the void of information’ and we see that the stories of people from within the live sheep trade is a current void that we aim to fill.”
Ms Nolan said the Livestock Collective aims to provide real, authentic information and stories from people within the supply chain so that informed decisions can be made.
“An outcome of our transparency projects may be a change in acceptance and trust for livestock industries.
“This is more broadly captured in independent research conducted by Voconiq which shows moving community sentiment.”
Ms Nolan said the collective shares real stories from farmers, station workers, livestock agents, livestock transport operators, stock people, veterinarians, exporters, importers and everyone in between.
“Previously, the industry had left a void of information and Australian agriculture wasn’t part of the conversation, leaving an opportunity for animal extremists to tell the story on our behalf.
“We are simply providing the Australian community an opportunity to connect with our industry and the real people along the supply chain,” she said.
“The Livestock Collective’s goal is to fill a void of information and provide everyone the opportunity to connect with the Australian livestock industry and its people.
“We feel that the voices of these people are important as for many people in agriculture it is more than just a job, it is a livelihood,” she said.
“If an entire agricultural industry can be phased out without scientific evidence to support the policy, it becomes an attack on the livelihoods and future of everyone involved in Australian agriculture.
“With a combination of industry changes that are achieving excellent animal welfare outcomes, increased transparency into the industry and independent community sentiment research, the live sheep trade is in an optimal position to not only stay, but grow,” Ms Nolan said.
“Our role in this is to provide the general community with real, transparent insights.”
Pity you don’t hold Goodfellow to account for telling lies. The two-minute video he talks about and the actions that it depicts which we all abhor, is history. He refused to answer on the ministerial briefing that cattle won’t be next. They want the end of all animal exploitation, including pets. Time to do a decent expose on him.
It is beyond me why you would choose to print anything that Jed Goodfellow has to say, especially in an industry-focused newsletter.
Another example of Terry Sim unable to see success and genuine intent in our industry. When will this abscess be removed from the arse of industry? Seriously promoting Jed over real industry?