MEAT processors have called for harmonised national standards for animal welfare as new federal legislation is introduced to increase jail sentences for farm invasion and harassment.
Australian Meat Industry Council chief executive officer Patrick Hutchinson said the Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 is another step in the right direction, but a nationalised approach to animal welfare is still needed.
“This Bill is the latest in a suite of legislative changes designed to protect legally operating agribusinesses from the illegal actions of activists,” Mr Hutchinson said.
Mr Hutchinson said activism seemed to be on the rise and the industry need to be managing the issue from multiple angles, but in a way that is co-ordinated and focused on the “big picture”.
“A harmonised national standard for animal welfare would be a very good place to start.
“I’d love to see state and territory governments with the federal government, make this happen, and to ensure our entire supply chain from gate to plate is represented,” he said.
Mr Hutchinson said AMIC is very happy to see the new Agricultural Protection Bill, which is expected to introduce jailable offences for people who use a carriage service to trespass, theft or unlawful damage on agricultural lands.
“In particular I am pleased to see that this proposed legislation includes protections not just for farmers but for abattoirs and saleyards too, though I do note that retailers seem to be missing from the list and certainly we have seen butchers targeted by activists in recent months.”
This latest legislative update comes on the back of new trespass laws in NSW. Mr Hutchinson said while the legislative changes are very positive, AMIC’s members are keen to see governments at all levels commit to a coordinated approach that meets the needs of the entire supply chain.
AMIC is the peak council that represents retailers, processors, wholesalers and smallgoods manufacturers and is the only industry association representing the post-farmgate Australian meat industry.
We already have nationally agreed animal welfare standards and guidelines across the supply chain.