RECENT activism at Queensland feedlots has created anxiety and concern among operators and made the red meat industry rethink its position in defending and promoting itself, although Australia is not ready for a national discourse, according to Australian Lot Feeders Association (ALFA) president Bryce Camm.
Mr Camm travelled west to Better Beef 2019, hosted by the WA Lot Feeders Association (WALFA) at Kylagh Feedlot south of Tammin last week.
He said with the campaigning underway for the Federal election, to be held on Saturday, May 18, the issue of "farm activism was now in the national spotlight".
"While it is great that both sides of politics appear supportive of industry, I'm not sure we are quite ready for a national conversation about the rights and wrongs of meat consumption," Mr Camm said.
"So the policy of ALFA has been to make this about a public safety and security issue and a right to land tenure and safety of people, staff and families, rather than making this about the rights and wrongs of whether feedlotting should exist.
"I don't think we are ready to have that conversation on a national level but there is hope because the industry has been investing in things that do make it possible to start to have that conversation with the wider community."
Mr Camm said traditionally lotfeeders "haven't dealt with a lot of the confrontation from groups that may not be pro animal agriculture".
"Maybe as an industry we have happily sat by and watched it happen to chickens, pigs, to live export and kind of go 'that's great - it's not us'," he said.
"Very much now it is us and the spotlight is on us."
Mr Camm outlined how historically veganism or the vegan society was started by Donald Watson in 1944 as a movement about food, health and longevity of life.
"I think the difference we are seeing post 2010 is an emergence around animal liberation and using food, diet and health as a way to communicate that message," he said.
"They are two very different outcomes.
"One is the dietary choice - for various reasons you decide to consume what you will.
"The second is a movement as an effort to discourage or move away from animal agriculture, which to me is a much more frightening movement that needs our industry's focus."
- For more on what Mr Camm had to say and other highlights of the Better Beef 2019, make sure you get this Thursday's copy of Farm Weekly.