SHEEPMEAT Council of Australia (SCA) chief Ron Cullen and vice president Jeff Murray met with a range of Federal politicians in Canberra last week to reinforce why the live export trade is valuable to the nation’s sheep producers.
They also aimed to dispel some of the myths circulated by animal rights groups since the Federal government’s month-long cattle trade ban to Indonesia last year.
Mr Murray wanted to confirm the value of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) to industry, which he said was working to increase animal welfare standards and needed continual strengthening to give producers greater business certainty.
The pair met with Federal Trade Minister Craig Emerson, Federal Independent MP Tony Windsor’s advisors, Shadow Agriculture Minister Cobb and several other MPs and Senators.
Mr Cullen said it was important the industry continued to present their views in Canberra to counter moves by animal rights groups to have the trade banned.
“There’s been a lot of emotion made in this whole live export debate and claims made that are not actually based on fact; like this business of substituting the live trade for boxed meat,” he said.
“That’s simply not going to work in those marketplaces because we’re selling particular products to particular market segments.
“There’s talk of building an abattoir in northern Australia, but it has to be commercially viable for 365 days a year.
“We’re as concerned as anyone about animal welfare and we’ve made significant improvements in markets like the Middle East, but cutting off the live trade isn’t going to improve worldwide animal welfare.
“We’ve been working on animal welfare in Middle East markets for 15-20 years. Admittedly, we haven’t been perfect at providing objective measurements of our progress in that area but we’ve seen it with our own eyes – particularly over the past 12 months where the changes and improvements have been substantial.
“We’re the only country doing work to improve animal welfare in these markets and if we walk out, animal welfare will only suffer.
Mr Murray said although some Middle East markets were currently experiencing turmoil, they remain important to Western Australia and he has faith in the live trade’s long-term future.
“There’s a strong future for live exports out of WA because the requirement’s there and it can’t be replaced by boxed or frozen meat as some people claim,” he said.
“We can play a big role providing food security for places around the world like the Middle East and Indonesia.
“Poor animal welfare only means poor outcomes for sheep meat quality or any other meat, so we’re desperate to see good outcomes for animal welfare like all producers are – and ESCAS will help provide that.”
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