Peak sheep and wool bodies to oppose mulesing ban bill

Terry Sim, July 26, 2019

AUSTRALIA’S peak sheep and wool producer bodies have come out strongly against plans by Animal Justice Party member Mark Pearson to introduce legislation to ban mulesing from 2022 in New South Wales.

Mr Pearson, as a New South Wales Member of the Legislative Council is having a bill drafted to make it offence to mules a lamb after 2021 and make pain relief mandatory for all surgical procedures where pain relief is available.

Mr Pearson is planning to table the bill in the NSW Parliament’s Legislative Council in August or September and is expecting government support for his mandatory pain relief proposal due to NSW Farmers and WoolProducers Australia policy support.

However, WPA president Ed Storey said WoolProducers will be arguing strongly against Mr Pearson’s intention to include in his bill a prohibition on mulesing from January 2022.

WPA has a policy to mandate pain relief for mulesing, and Mr Storey said for many Australian sheep and wool production systems mulesing with pain relief is a best practice animal welfare outcome.

“The voluntary adoption rate of pain relief for mulesing by wool growers is a great story which should be congratulated.

“We now have the results of two growers’ surveys, one conducted by Australian Wool Innovation and the other by NSW Farmers Association, that indicate that well over 80 percent of producers already use pain relief.”

He said the current call from WoolProducers to mandate pain relief has been supported by the Victorian Farmers Federation, Sheep Producers Australia and now NSW Farmers, which further demonstrates the industry’s commitment to animal welfare.

“Which is why we are very disappointed with Mr Pearson’s comments regarding a banning of the (mulesing) practice.

“If Mr Pearson wanted to build any type of relationship with the wool-growing sector to achieve welfare outcomes, he should throw his full support behind industry calling for mandatory pain relief for mulesing and leave it at that,” he said.

“This talk of a proposed bill calling for a ban of mulesing demonstrates why industry cannot work with, or trust animal rights groups.

“WoolProducers will not accept any deadline for the cessation of mulesing because the reality is in many circumstances mulesing with pain relief is the best husbandry procedure that can be done for the animal,” Mr Storey said.

Mr Storey said in some areas, and especially pastoral areas subjective to variable rainfall, temperature and seasonal conditions, mulesing is an essential tool for the welfare of the animal.

“We will be engaging with the major political parties to ensure Mark Pearson’s views and perspective on this matter are not progressed.”

SheepProducers Australia also opposes mulesing ban

SheepProducers Australia chairman Chris Mirams yesterday reiterated the body’s position.

“And that is that no prime lamb should be mulesed and if a prime lamb mother is mulesed that pain relief is used.

“SPA certainly supports and encourages industry to transition away from mulesing.”

However, Mr Mirams said SPA did not support a ban on mulesing in 2022.

“We take the view that any solution to the mulesing issue with the sheep industry must be credible, workable and affordable.

“We also take the view that we recognise this issue is not going to go away.

“We recognise that our customers pay a premium price for a premium product and therefore have very high expectations and those expectations are not only about the quality of a product, but also about how a product is produced.”

Mr Mirams said in the increasingly connected world, the desire for the sheep industry’s customers to be informed in their purchasing decisions is gaining momentum.

“We take the view that our industry response to this needs to gain momentum as well, including on issues like mulesing.”

Mr Mirams said SPA gave great credit to producers who have invested in the genetics and management systems that have enabled them to transition away from mulesing.

“But also we would like to see some further momentum within the industry and we know there are many many farmers that are continuing to make those investments, which is fantastic.”

He said SPA encouraged SPA to make use of the resources that Australian Wool Innovation and Meat & Livestock Australia make available to them to help in the transition.

“SPA recognises that different stakeholders have different opinions on mulesing and SPA’s view perhaps has a greater degree of urgency to move forward on this issue than some of the other stakeholders.

“Our view is that as our customers are increasingly connected, the Millenials are driving the discussions, and we need to, as we move into a demand-driven premium product environment we will need to increase our awareness of their needs and answer those needs.”


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  1. Glenn Nix, August 2, 2019

    Deane, there is no fait accompli here. Compulsory pain relief maybe on the way and it’s seen as fair and reasonable, but banning mulesing is not, to many people who push a hand piece, actually have to clean up flystrike on unmulesed sheep and would not agree with you. The people demanding it — the vegans, greens and animal liberationists — are not our consumers anyway. As for being conservative, I’ve voted for both sides of the house while mulesing.

  2. Glenn Nix, July 27, 2019

    Paul, sheep numbers have nothing to do with dancing or old tunes hipster. Try 25 years of poor prices followed by a couple of horrendous droughts. Where are these premiums, I see no section on market reports for unmulesed wool?

  3. Deane Goode, July 27, 2019

    There is no doubt that mulesing will be banned. It will happen one day.
    Customers will demand it.
    Lets get on with it and set a date and work towards a less complicated and more productive sheep.
    When mulesing is banned we will have these same conservative people crying ” Give us some time “, when we have already had 15 years or so.

  4. Paul Latham, July 26, 2019

    Almost laughable, these peak bodies are self congratulating themselves for getting to this point in time when the issue of ceasing mulesing was first put on the table over a decade ago. Interesting that a considerable number of sheep producers took up the challenge back then and changed their genetics and management practices with minimal disruption to their business. They are now reaping the financial benefits where wool is attracting a premium as well as being responsible about animal welfare. Yet the rest continue to drag their feet, grumble and clearly show the rest of the world they have no time for improvement but want to dance along to the old tunes. No wonder sheep no’s are in decline with many young farmers steering towards new technologies that will provide innovation and drive their passion. Just remember the customer dictates who buys the end product and no half baked sugar coated message from the sheep industry will fool the savvy consumer across the globe.

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