Farmers this week warned against rash decision-making on the future of Australia’s live sheep exports.
The call came on Thursday, after Federal Labor announced their intention to support a ban of the industry, via transition, and the RSPCA and Animals Australia offered $1 million in support for farmers at an economic loss from the trade's ceasation.
“The National Farmers’ Federation is grateful to the RSPCA and Animals Australia for their concern for the livelihoods of farmers and for the livestock in their care,” NFF President Fiona Simson said.
"However, the plan to ban live sheep exports, while well-meaning is unfortunately ill-thought through."
Ms Simson said like the RSPCA and Animals Australia, farmers care deeply for the animals they raise.
“Striving for the highest possible animal welfare at all points in the supply chain is an objective shared by the RSPCA, Animals Australia and all Australians, especially farmers.
“Farmers were also let down by the regulator, who clearly failed gravely in discharging its obligations.
“The NFF and our members have been working closely with the Government and exporters to see that positive changes are put in place to ensure such circumstances never arise again.
“We want to fix the industry not ban it.
“We support Minister Littleproud’s ‘short, sharp’ review, led by Dr Michael McCarthy and we look forward to understanding the recommendations contained in the report when it is handed down on 11 May.
“It is crucial that decisions made about the trade’s future are made with all the necessary, objective information at hand.
“Once this information and the options contained in the report are available, the industry can make decisions on the path forward.
“The live sheep export industry, its operations and the markets its services are complex.
“There is not one single solution that will enable the industry to achieve the positive adjustments farmers expect to see.
“Certainly, a knee-jerk ban is not the answer.
“The NFF remains in support of the live sheep export trade – we need to fix it, not ban it.
"The implications of a ban on farming family’s livelihoods, the regional communities and workers who rely on the industry could be disastrous and wide ranging - as we have seen with previous suspensions of the trade," Ms Simson said.
In a statement, the Australian Livestock Exporters Council said if live sheep exports were to cease, Australia would be neglecting its responsibility as a world leader in animal welfare and the driver of ongoing improvement of global livestock practices.
“The sweeping reforms endorsed by ALEC members on April 18 proves our industry is following through on our promise to drive cultural change,” the statement read.
“We are embracing reduced summer stocking densities, independent observers on voyages and using the latest science to measure livestock welfare.
“We are united with farmers in our commitment to strengthen welfare safeguards and we invite political and welfare representatives to sit-down with us to discuss the importance of maintaining an ethically and economically sustainable live sheep trade.”