Time the national beef herd's facts were actually heard

Time the national beef herd's facts were actually heard

Analysis
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The Australian beef industry is already tired of being told their message of sustainability is not being heard.

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ALL THE FACTS: ABSF sustainability steering group chair Tess Herbert launched the fourth annual update to the report in Rockhampton.

ALL THE FACTS: ABSF sustainability steering group chair Tess Herbert launched the fourth annual update to the report in Rockhampton.

The Australian beef industry is already tired of being told their message of sustainability is not being heard.

But they have been reassured when they finally make headway against the anti-meat lobby, they will have transparency and truth on their side.

Australia's beef industry has been patiently gathering key facts from individual farms for years.

Experts say all this data will be vital when the time is ripe to lay all the facts out before the public, the good, bad and the ugly.

These numbers are contained in the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework which the beef industry has been producing for four years.

Each four years, beef producers are asked to fill out an extensive survey which collectively provides a picture of the industry.

A boring job for most, and little understood by many, the framework gives the industry a solid footing to stake its environmental and animal welfare claims using the truth.

It is exactly the reason the sheep industry is following beef's lead, even though it has years to catch up.

The Australian sheep industry has launched successive campaigns recently also working to counter this anti-livestock message.

The Trust in Wool campaign, launched back in March, is that industry's efforts to lay out at the real story of Australian production.

The Australian Sheep Sustainability Framework was launched in April to mirror the efforts already made in beef.

The latest beef annual update shows animal welfare practices and tracking the industry's sustainability credentials are top of mind for producers.

The framework's latest annual update, launched at Beef Australia in Rockhampton this week, defines sustainable beef production and tracks performance each year.

The framework is guided by a steering group which is chaired by Tess Herbert who said the industry was heading in the right direction.

"The past year has been like no other - travel restrictions, lockdowns, quarantine and global disruption have disrupted supply chains and important revenue pathways," Ms Herbert said.

"Despite the many challenges, responses to our producer sustainability survey increased four-fold demonstrating producers are more engaged with the process of promoting industry transparency and progress.

"We've also seen an increase in producer satisfaction, awareness of animal welfare standards and the use of regular pain relief for cattle."

The framework tracks the numbers in those areas often attacked by detractors, on the pain relief issue, use has risen from 21 per cent to 30 per cent in a year

Ms Herbert said the framework was able to provide a clear and transparent report card on where the industry is up to in the areas they care most about.

"Extensive consultation has been undertaken to optimise indicators and collect the data not only to track performance but identify new opportunities and priority areas for the industry," Mrs Herbert said.

Red Meat Advisory Council chair John McKillop said it marked five years since the council appointed the first Sustainability Steering Group in 2016 and since then many other industries have followed suit.

"The Australian beef industry is at the forefront of setting global benchmarks for animal health, welfare, environmental management and product integrity," Mr McKillop said.

"As an industry, we should be proud of the progressive leadership that we collectively demonstrated more than half a decade ago to establish the framework.

"Australia's beef industry supply chain set the agenda well before most other industries had even started to consider similar reporting frameworks."

Key highlights from the framework:

  • The Australian beef industry remains free from all exotic diseases to ensure access to over 100 markets
  • Despite herd rebuild, in 2018 the Australian beef industry had a 51.46 per cent reduction in the carbon footprint of the industry since the baseline year of 2005.
  • The processing sector reduced the amount of CO2E emitted per hot tonne standard carcass weight by 8.1pc when processing beef, and further reduced water usage by 7.9pc.
  • Producers rated their global life satisfaction at 79.45 out of 100, indicating an increase of quality of life from previous years.
  • Awareness of animal welfare standards for cattle has risen to 97.3pc from 73c.

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The story Time the national beef herd's facts were actually heard first appeared on Farm Online.

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