THE People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have recruited yet another Hollywood celebrity to run down the live export trade and mulesing practices.
According to a statement on the PETA website, American actor Joaquin Phoenix has written a letter to Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran asking him to put an end to “the two worst abuses of sheep ... by banning both mulesing and the export of live sheep to the Middle East.”
In the statement, Mr Phoenix said he admits to having previous misconceptions about the treatment of sheep raised for the wool industry.
He says that he was shocked when he learned “the truth” about mulesing and live exports.
The Australian Livestock Export Animal Welfare Group is outraged that Mr Phoenix has criticised many Australians including farmers, veterinarians, transport operators, trainers, welfare officers and the rural communities who work tirelessly to continue Australia’s leadership role in the export of livestock.
LiveCorp chief executive officer Cameron Hall said he was concerned about the continuing trend of ill-informed celebrities being used by PETA to grab headlines and spread misinformation about an important trade that contributed significant economic and social benefits to regional and rural Australian communities.
“Australian farming families and communities are being crippled by drought, and in spite of this are continuing to invest in animal welfare programs both in Australia and overseas,” Mr Hall said.
“These programs include education, training and infrastructure development to ensure their sheep and cattle are cared for on vessels and at their destination.
“I’m sure Mr Phoenix researches his film roles. He should take the same level of care before criticising and potentially damaging a world leading Australian industry that supports the livelihoods of many farming families and communities.”
Australian Sheep and Wool Industry Taskforce manager Matthew Flugge said the calls for mulesing to end now are naïve and ill informed.
“Like the celebrities conned by PETA before him, he has no credibility in relation to this issue,” Mr Flugge said.
“How many celebrity puppets must PETA parade before it gets the message that the Australian wool industry cannot simply end mulesing immediately?
“The industry has made a commitment to phase out mulesing by the end of 2010 and is working incredibly hard to develop commercially viable alternatives by this date.”