The trifecta of increased exports, new markets and improved animal welfare underscores the benefits of a strong live export sector to Australia and the world, the CEO of the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council Alison Penfold said today.
“Contrary to claims by RSPCA, like meat exports, live exports are growing in volume and value and off the back of enormous direct improvements to the treatment and handling of exported livestock in markets around the world.
“Since 2012 (the first full year of ESCAS rollout), live exports have grown by 24% with cattle the largest contributor to growth. This growth has delivered hundreds of millions of dollars into the pockets of producers, supported over 10,000 jobs across rural and regional Australia and contributed over $1.2 billion to the national economy.
“With the assistance of the Australian Government, additional markets such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Iran and Lebanon have been opened and work is underway to provide access to markets like Saudi Arabia, China, Mexico and the US. This is at the same time that the Government has delivered new FTAs with China and Japan and commenced several others that will provide significant benefits to the red meat sector as a whole.
“Of critical importance has been the significantly improved animal welfare conditions for exported and local livestock since the introduction of ESCAS, a revolutionary achievement as a standalone example of Australian industry’s commitment to continuous welfare improvement.
“Over 7,500 people in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe have been trained in proper animal welfare practices and over 900 feedlots and abattoirs in 19 markets now exceed international animal welfare standards. This would not and could not be delivered without Australian involvement and investment.
“In real terms, Australia is best served by public policy that supports both a strong live and meat processing sector. The sectors service in the main different market segments and has evolved to service different consumer interests, not dictate to them.
“Both sectors will contribute to an expansion of Australia’s “red meat pie” through greater market diversity, increased market reach and more market choice for producers around the country.”
Ms Penfold said that while ALEC prefers a constructive relationship with RSPCA and not a “slanging match” over this latest campaign, a number of the claims made could not go unchallenged.
“For starters, their campaign in essence is based on an argument that Government’s should pick winners based on export volume alone.
“That line of argument would rule out any Government encouragement and support for the vast majority of agricultural industries in this country that export significantly less export product than the meat processing sector, but still play a vital economic and social role in communities around the country.
“A further claim suggests that the live trade has said it was the “main game” in terms of the red meat exports.
“The live trade has never made such a claim and has no basis for saying so. What the trade has said is that it helps underpin price to producers, a claim substantiated by a number of studies produced and seen in practical effect in cattle and sheep markets across the country over recent years.
“The headline statistics also don’t match apples with apples as they include markets which the live trade does not export to (the US and EU), or has only a breeder trade (China), nor recognise the self-suspension of Egypt and Bahrain by exporters in the interests of welfare.
“The campaign is a shallow and misguided attempt to manipulate public opinion and only weakens the RSPCA’s credibility as an objective arbiter of animal welfare. It is disappointing to see such a hack job usually the purview of activists become mainstream for RSPCA”.
Contact: Alison Penfold 0408 633 026