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Monday 15 August 2011

When Push Comes to Shove.

Blogging. Tweeting. Facebook. Rallies. Protests. Letter writing. Things I used to associate with people who had too much time and not enough to do. Not something I would ever get involved in. Or so I thought.

Farmers Rally in Geraldton WA
It's amazing how your perspective on things change when something you believe in is threatened. When people, maybe even well-meaning people, decide that the best course of action is to take away the very thing you have worked hard to achieve. And in doing so have automatically condemned the last however many years of your working life as a failure. Some have even gone so far to label myself, my family and my colleagues as money hungry, cruel, inhumane and uncaring.

That hurts a little, especially coming from people who have never seen what I do. Or how I do it. The unknown is, if they did come and see what I do, would their opinions change? Somehow I doubt it.

We've all seen the footage. Cattle being shockingly mistreated in the Indonesian abattoirs. Sheep being dragged away and stuffed into car boots in the Middle East. I haven't heard a single person say any of that is acceptable. Yet we are all condemned for supporting the live trade.

It must be wonderful to have a black and white view of the world. Where things are right or wrong. So easy to see the simple solution while ignoring the ramifications. Much easier to scream "Ban Live Export" than it is to say "Let's help fix live exports." Because the banning is the easy option, make no mistake. The other option is, well, quite frankly, too hard for them.

And the slightly frustrating thing is live exports is not the problem. Mortality's on the voyages are negible. Around the 1% mark for sheep, less for cattle. Any other industry with that sort of success rate would win an award. The animals are prepared wonderfully in Australia in depots to acclimatise them to the feed and inspect and remove any unhealthy ones. The trucks that cart them to the wharves are penned at a lighter rate in case of any delays in offloading them to the ships. Officials have the ability to draft of anything else they suspect is not suitable as they are loading the ships.

The problem is the final point of slaughter. Now somebody please tell me, how do we convince people who have been doing it that way for centuries that it is wrong? Can you imagine telling a fisherman he can't use a hook anymore, he'll have to either net them or use dynamite. And yet, they are changing. Ever so slowly, we are getting there. Kill boxes are going in, people are encouraged to take their sheep on the backs of utes. Private slaughterhouses can kill the animal for you. Stock handling schools are run all the time for feedlot staff overseas. This is how Australia helps improve animal standards. Not by walking away. Not when there are other countries waiting to fill the void left by us. Countries who aren't as concerned with welfare.

I am proud to be involved in an industry, the only industry for that matter, which is actively improving welfare standards in overseas countries. As yet I haven't heard a thing from Animals Australia or the RSPCA on how banning the trade will improve standards in those countries.

Angry farmers and their supporters. Not to be messed with.
Us farmers are a quiet bunch. We don't rock the boat. We shrug, put our heads down and get on with it. Until lately. In the last few weeks since the ridiculous ill-informed ban on the Indonesian trade, I've seen a slow and steady rumble of discontent build. Be it the live export, land rights, water rights, coal seam gas or just people sick of the seemingly constant bagging we get, farmers around the nation have had enough. And when push comes to shove, I know which corner I'd want to be standing in.


Troy Hadrick said...

It's great to see that you are starting to tell your OWN story instead of letting someone else tell their version of it for you! Congratulations and thanks for following my blog.

Troy Hadrick
5th Generation American Rancher

Anonymous said...

Awesome write up thank you for sharing and presenting the facts and allowing people to actually think about it instead of jumping to conclusions

CountryMouse said...

It is sad to see how close minded people can be. Do they think that if you click you fingers that traditions thousands of years old are going to change.

I don't think those who put the ban into place realised the remiforcations of their misinformed decision. Despite the breifness of the ban the damage was already done to those who rely solely on live export.

The saddest part of all is those making momentous decisions like banning live export don't comprehend what it means to them, they figure it won't effect them but it does. It in the end affects all Australians, not to mention the Indonesians who lost a meat source.

The extended banning of live export would have resulted in a flooding of other cattle markets within Australia resulting in low prices given for meat. This would have meant producers would stop selling as it wasn't worth it leaving consumers with a lack of meat on the shelves resulting in hiked prices.

Sorry got a bit carried away but all I can say is people making decisions like that need to think of the domino effect it has.