OPINION: Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association (ALPA) president Brendan Wade responds to media reports about RSPCA guidelines to shut down saleyards in three to five years.
NO doubt you would have seen or heard about a front page article on the weekend entitled: "Going, going gone: the death of the saleyards".
The RSPCA position/guideline is to have all livestock marketed direct to processors or by the internet and that all saleyard selling be eliminated within three to five years.
ALPA are extremely concerned by the attitude of the RSPCA against saleyards and ALPA will be defending saleyards as rigorously as possible.
We will do all in our power to protect the marketing of livestock by physical auction, ensuring the longevity of our industry and the livelihoods of our members.
We all must ensure as an industry and as individuals, that we are beyond reproach, in the way that we handle livestock in our saleyard facilities with regard to animal welfare.
We must at all times display best practice in animal welfare and condemn those that do not and who treat this issue lightly.
As professionals, we must continually improve and most importantly, demonstrate best animal welfare practices.
ALPA will be enlisting the help and support from the likes of Tony White of the Australian Livestock Markets Association, president of the NFF Jock Laurie, Cattle Council of Australia CEO Jed Matz, Andrew McCarron from Regional Infrastructure, State Farming Organization presidents, MLA, and Chief Veterinary Officers from the Departments of Primary Industries, to name a few.
Since the newspaper report came out on Saturday, ALPA CEO Andy Madigan and I have fielded calls from disturbed members and producers.
We have already received an offer of help and support from a senior veterinarian and livestock research academic who suggests that this misguided position of the RSPCA is impossible to support with the accepted science of the field.
In his words, "It does not represent the consensus of the veterinarians and scientists working in this area and should be challenged in science".
The position of the RSPCA against saleyards is just one of many of the guidelines for producers that the RSPCA outlines as its vision for higher welfare practices in the beef cattle industry in the short to medium term.
I must point out that this stance against saleyards is not endorsed by all state RSPCA bodies, it is the view of the national body.
This position taken by the RSPCA will not go away, and ALPA members must ensure that when we are working with livestock, in our very public livestock marketing centres, that we handle livestock with care and do not give anyone ammunition to gain traction with their extreme position that could jeopardise the livelihoods of our members and thousands of workers around the country.