As the daughter of a farmer, who no longer lives on the farm because it is just so damned hard to make a living these days, I am appalled that some of you think the farmers of Australia do not consider animal welfare or sustainability and only care about a quick dollar. Let me tell you.. there are no 'quick dollars' in the farming industry. I would like to make a number of points:
Farmers are driven by sustainability. Unlike many people who no nothing of the land, many farmers understand that in order to get the best from their animals, they must look after them. They must also look after their land. Their future livelihood, and I mean livelihood, not profits, because many farmers live hand to mouth, depends on their stewardship of the land.
Farming is a highly regulated industry. There are rules about the chemicals, (if any) that they use, there are rules about how they must maintain the land, if and how they can clear trees to put in fences and dams, there are rules about how they truck cattle, there are rules about the protection of waterways. In Queensland the State Government has recently brought in more rules about the sustainability of farms, because they blame farmers for the deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef. There are many other regulations that I am not even aware of because I no longer work on my family's farm. Farmers are suffering from regulation fatigue and that is why many of them have given up speaking out, and you will not hear the voices of the majority of farmers on this issue. They are tired, and they are busy tending to their animals and their farms.
Farmers love their animals, if you didn't love them, you could never live that lifestyle. Farming requires so much hard work and heartache. Animals require so much hard work to thrive and in times of drought, or flood, so much more work just to survive. Farmers donít go home at 5:00pm, kick back and forget about it all. When you work on a farm, you live it, itís your everything. Animals need food and water, they need inoculating for illnesses and diseases, treating for ticks and flies, when you are not doing that, you are repairing fences, equipment and yards, maintaining waterways, caring for the land, eradicating pest weeds, and feral animals. So donít think that after all that hard work, farmers like seeing their animals treated badly. Moreover, it is sickening for myself and many people I know from farms, to see animals treated badly, this includes, cows, sheep, dogs, cats, and our native animals.
Farmers have a limited market for their produce. Abattoirs in Australia were very nearly a monopoly industry before the live export trade started up. My family sold and still sells their cattle to our local abattoir, however the only other market available to them prior to the live export trade was the sale yards, where eventually they end up at an abattoir anyway. Many cattle that are sold to the live export trade are unsuitable for our fussy Australian palette. We donít like eating the tough beef from northern Australia. And many cattle sold to the live export trade are smaller and lighter than the abattoirsí will accept. The live export trade provides farmers with an additional market place where they can derive some income from. This is not to say we do not need to support our own abattoirs, however, without the live export trade, many farmers will be captive to the abattoirs once again and without any bargaining power. Without competition, our abattoirs will become a near monopoly industry again.
Many people eat meat. I see many of you dedicated vegetarians complaining about this, however, like it or not, meat is a source of protein for billions of people. Unfortunately, to eat meat, an animal must be slaughtered. Itís not like picking broccoli or lettuce, where you snap of leaves and you see no effects. Itís yukky, and its messy and its bloody, and can be very distressing for the slaughterer. There is nothing nice about killing something, no matter how humanely you do it. Personally, I think that you should know how your food gets on your plate, if you eat meat, of any sort, beef, pork, chicken, fish, you need to understand that an animal must die. Our society is very removed from the realities of where our food and consumables come from.
What we saw on the TV was very selective. In many cases, only a small percentage of cattle ARE treated like that, which is still wrong, but I have been told, by people in the industry, that we were only shown the horror.
Scooter, I would suggest to people like yourself, who are concerned for the welfare of the cattle, to stop reading Senate reports. We all know the Government is out of touch with the realities of the industry. If you really want to make a difference and if you are so passionate about the welfare of the animals, get yourself a job on a farm. Learn about the industry. Get yourself a job on a live export boat, teach others to treat our animals with the dignity they deserve. Go work in an abattoir both in Australia and in Indonesia. Find out how to slaughter our animals in a cruelty free manner. Stopping the live export trade is not the answer as it destroys economyís, livelihoods, and will reduce many people and animals in both Australia and Indonesia to starvation. Getting people like yourself, who care about animal welfare, involved, is the answer. If you are that passionate and you really care about our animals, instead of name calling and complaining, protesting and jumping up and down, become actively and constructively involved in the industry, become a farmer, or a meat worker, or get involved in the live export trade. Make a difference by being constructive.