Western Australia’s peak agricultural lobby group, WAFarmers, has come out in support of live exporters defending their industry against the latest animal rights campaign to ban the trade.
Animals Australia recently launched an online funding campaign to ban the live animal export industry, supported by bus and billboard advertisements suggesting the trade is a “crime against animals”.
The animal rights group is seeking online donations to a Live Export Fighting Fund to finance what it is calling the biggest live export campaign in history. It claims animals are suffering despite legal complaints and that it had consistently exposed live exporters for cruelty.
Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council chief executive officer Alison Penfold has said the industry come a long way with reforms, new regulatory parameters extending exporter responsibility onto foreign soil, investment in new and improved infrastructure and the training of over 7500 workers overseas in animal handling, husbandry and slaughter which has seen Australia lead animal welfare standards among about 100 livestock exporting nations.
The industry was striving for “zero harm”, while accepting a responsibility to improve its animal welfare practices, Ms Penfold said.
Meat and Livestock Australia said Australian live sheep exports totalled 2,020,941 head in 2013-14, valued at A$185 million. WA shipped the most sheep, 1,719,007 head, worth A$154 million. The second largest export state was Victoria (186,033 head), followed by South Australia (104,527 head).
WAFarmers meat section president Jeff Murray said the sheep industry is an integral part of the Australian economy and a fundamental part of that is animal welfare.
“The welfare of livestock is central to the practices of all farmers in the sector – without strong animal welfare, farmers don’t have a livelihood,” Mr Murray said.
Australia maintains world class animal welfare standards and is constantly working to improve these.
“We have an ongoing staff training program in the country of destination, to ensure the highest welfare standards,” Mr Murray said.
“Banning the live export trade would have a serious negative impact on a billion dollar industry and the livelihood of thousands of people,” Mr Murray said.
“Furthermore, it would not improve animal welfare.
“Australian markets would go to exporters who don’t invest in welfare, train their staff or consider the health and welfare needs of their livestock.”
Source: WAFarmers, ALEC, Animals Australia
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