Recent comments by: RSPCA Australia
Agribuzz with David Leyonhjelm
The Australian pig industry should be commended for voluntarily phasing out sow stalls by 2017 and investing in research and development into new farrowing techniques that will better meet the needs of the sow and her piglets. Sow stalls and farrowing crates confine the sow to an area so small she cannot even turn around. Australian consumers can support Australian pig farmers by buying Australian pork and demanding of their supermarket and butcher that all ham and bacon that is imported meet at least these same standards.
The report makes it clear that, overall, the demand for meat exports has been consistently rising and is set to continue. Currently 94% of sheep and 93% of beef cattle produced in Australia are slaughtered here - overall, Australian livestock producers receive only 7% of their income from the sale of animals to the live export industry. It’s time for the government to direct its time and energy towards supporting the vast majority of farmers who supply the domestic slaughter trade rather than pandering to the disproportionate demands of live exporters.
Congratulations V&V Walsh for investing in the Australian processing industry providing economic opportunities and a more sustainable trade for producers as well as protecting the welfare of Australian animals. The parallel investment in Mongolia & provision of Australian technical expertise is proof that we don't have to export live animals to assist in improving animal husbandry & welfare in developing countries.
Any expansion into China should not be considered without a clear understanding of the country’s capacity to meet animal welfare standards, including a full and transparent compliance audit and evaluation of China’s capacity to comply with ESCAS. Any commercial parties involved should produce evidence of China’s ability to meet Australian animal welfare standards before arrangements proceed. Rather than invest further in an industry known for its high risk animal welfare problems, producers and the government should be developing and investing in the boxed meat trade.
While MoUs are not legally binding, the importance of negotiating the terms under which live export can be conducted, and setting out agreed processes should normal arrangements fail, should not be underestimated. Without MoUs, there will be no formal measures in place between governments in new markets to reduce the potential for rejected cargoes such as the Ocean Drover by Bahrain in 2012, or the Cormo Express by Saudi Arabia in 2003. The dismissal of MoUs is yet another step backwards for animal welfare by the Coalition government.
Consumer demand for cage-free eggs (incl. free-range) has never been stronger, for the simple reason that keeping hens in cages is cruel. More than 11 million hens in cages in Australia cannot; perch, dust bathe, scratch for food, fully stretch their wings or lay their eggs in the privacy of a nest. Rather than promoting a system that denies a hen her most basic behavioural needs, the egg industry's energy is better directed at transitioning away from cages towards well-managed, non-cage systems with healthy, robust birds able to fulfill behavioural needs. Only then can you have a happy hen.
RSPCA Australia recognises that wild dogs can cause substantial suffering to livestock and significant distress to farmers when they kill or injure sheep, lambs, calves or other vulnerable animals. The RSPCA has been an active participant in the development of the National Wild Dog Action Plan and strongly supports research to develop more humane and effective methods to control wild dogs. We also work to help inform the community about responsible dog management in peri-urban and rural areas.
Any nation unwilling to meet ESCAS requirements should not be allowed to import Australian animals as it will allow the continuation of poor practices that don’t even meet OIE guidelines. ESCAS was put in place following systemic animal cruelty and is the bare minimum that should be required. There must be increased investment in the boxed meat trade in order to secure new markets for Australian producers and ensure the welfare of our animals.
The live trade’s history is marked by a litany of disasters - over 2.5million animals died on voyages alone over the past 30 years. The skimmed over September ‘incident’ saw 4,179 sheep perish from heat stress en route to Qatar. Heat stress is a slow, agonising way to die. Australia can contribute to improving animal welfare standards abroad without participating in the live trade. The provision of technical assistance, tied foreign aid, and greater investment in relevant OIE and global animal welfare NGO programs, provide greater opportunities to achieve long-term, wider-reaching impacts.