29 March 2017

 

The Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) has flagged serious concerns following the release of the Productivity Commission’s final report into the Regulation of Agriculture, which recommends the establishment of an Australian Commission for Animal Welfare.

Speaking on behalf of its industry members, incorporating livestock producers, lot feeders, meat processors and livestock exporters, RMAC Chairman Don Mackay said the final report had over-reached with regard to animal welfare.

“Australian producers and other supply chain stakeholders are proud of their hard-earned reputation as world leaders in livestock welfare standards and are committed to demonstrating to the community we are continuously improving standards and practices,” Mr Mackay said.

“RMAC’s Meat Industry Strategic Plan (MISP2020) confirms our industry’s absolute commitment to improved animal health and welfare, while more effectively engaging with the public regarding supply chain initiatives which align industry practice with community expectations. Furthermore, industry has committed to working with Government to better communicate to the community the significant work being done.

“But more red-tape and bureaucratic processes won’t help improve the welfare of livestock on farms or in our supply chains, it will merely create further administrative costs for the red meat industry and do not reflect the Federal governments approach to unlocking growth in the Australian red meat and livestock sector.”

Mr Mackay said the red meat industry’s concerns regarding a lack of balance which arose from the PC’s draft report, released in July last year, had not been allayed by the release of the Productivity Commission’s final report.

“At a time when Australia’s competitiveness and global market access is already being tested by our high operational costs, the Productivity Commission report’s animal welfare recommendations do not reflect the practical, commercially viable policies embraced by industry and supported by the Federal Government,” he said.

“It would seem that not only does the recommendation to establish an Australian Commission for Animal Welfare actually goes against the core objective of the report – to find ways to increase agricultural productivity in Australia by cutting red tape – it also adopts skewed animal welfare lobby policies to solve a problem that doesn’t actually exist, putting at risk thousands of Australian jobs.”

“It would appear significant industry and government efforts to drive and uphold the world’s best animal welfare outcomes have been overlooked in this report. Through industry direction, industry research and development bodies such as Meat & Livestock Australia, LiveCorp and Australian Meat Processors’ Corporation have spent millions in researching best-practice methods and enabling stakeholders to upskill and adopt new standards throughout the supply chain.

Mr Mackay said Australia’s red meat and livestock industry contributes approximately $7 billion to Australia’s gross domestic product.

“Our red meat processing sector has an annual turnover in excess of $16 billion, making it the largest trade-exposed manufacturing industry in Australia,” he said.

“The industry is also Australia’s largest food manufacturer and a significant employer in rural and regional areas, directly employing some 200,000 Australians on-farm across the supply chain, while supporting thousands of other jobs indirectly.”

Media Contact: Anna Campbell, 0448 692 245