Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) said that Australian farmers could lose up to AUD3.2 billion (US$2.32 billion) by 2030 if the livestock sector does not adapt to meet changing consumer attitudes to animal welfare.
An independent economic study is reported to have predicted that Australia’s AUD15 billion (US$10.4 billion) meat and livestock industry could face losses of up to AUD3.8 billion (US$2.65 billion) by 2030, of which Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) said that 84% could be attributed to animal welfare concerns. Speaking at the Victorian Farmers Federation meeting held at the end of May in Darnum, Australia, Jacqueline Baptista from the MLA said that the recent farm raids carried out by animal welfare activists have contributed to farmers’ growing concern about the safety of themselves, their livestock and the future of their industry.
“We can’t change what people choose to eat, whether they choose to eat vegetables, not vegetables, red meat or not red meat — that’s someone’s individual choice and we completely respect that”, said Baptista. “We do actually though, have a problem with activists’ activities. Farm raids are obviously a big problem for us”, she added. However, Baptista said that the industry needs to acknowledge the fact that these issues will not just disappear. “We’ve spent decades thinking this threat would go away, or it would change, or it was just some sort of activist left-wing group that would magically disappear and we’ve dealt with it a couple of different ways,” she said, while encouraging farmers to “talk honestly, proudly and transparently” about their businesses with consumers.
Recognising the increasing awareness of ethical issues in animal farming, Baptista said the vegan movement will no doubt continue to grow and that the industry needs to find “the delivery method people want” for their red meat. During her presentation, she gave examples of MLA’s collaboration with large catering organisations to keep beef and lamb on menus and teaching organisations, such as mining companies, how to cook cheaper cuts of meat to maintain red meat consumption.