Saturday, February 25, 2012

Clipping DeRose's - a reply to an article in the Australian (25/2) live export is cruel and must be banned)

I would like to ask Mr DeRose if is article (the Australian 25/2)  was intended to be dishonest or to simply betray a willful ignorance of the facts. Mr DeRose declares that Australia is undermining the work of the OIE when in fact the new live export supply chains only send their animals to accredited abattoirs that meet OIE guidelines. Far from undermining the OIE the live export industry is actually creating real change in how animals are treated overseas. If you draw a line across a map of Australia from Townsville to Perth there are no abattoirs north of that line, meaning an instant ban on live export would require animals to be trucked thousands of kilometers south, a poor animal welfare outcome. Those opposed to live export often screech about killing the animals here in Australia but they make the assumption that Indonesia and other countries would buy the expensive boxed meat, a moot point considering Indonesia's recent slashing of boxed beef imports. The fact is Australia is now exporting animal welfare in a way that no other country, not even Mr DeRose's USA can match. A ban on live exports from Australia simply clears the way for countries with inferior standards to take our place and animal abuse to flourish. Mr DeRose joins the many other public voices here in Australia foolishly crying "ban live export, regardless of the animal welfare outcomes".

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fighting for our future - why I am an agvocate

A person whom I had never met face to face, a friend I had met through the 'save live export' facebook group called me just before the big RSPCA protest in Melbourne. She was having second thoughts about coming with my partner and I to counter protest at the rally and I could hear in her voice that she was very intimidated by the idea of being out-numbered a thousand to one at a very emotionally charged protest. (I don't blame her either)

"I just don't see how we're going to do anything worth while, there's so many of them, so few of us and they never listen anyway." She said.

Those of us who have fought this battle over the last eight months or so have often  asked ourselves why we bother. I've often wished for the days when we were allowed to farm without having to justify our existence to a group of people that would never take the time to walk a mile in our shoes for fear having to challenge their moral vanity "live export is wrong, I am right, end of story".

Often, when cornered by hard evidence like government reports that clearly prove the massive negative animal welfare outcomes of the changes these people push for or the non-viability of abattoirs replacing live export (Indonesia recently slashed boxed beef imports) they turn to abuse or twisting previous statements all out of context, forcing the argument over old ground and into a vicious circle of repetitive venomous argument.

The disturbing thing about this strange tactic is that it constantly exposes the fatal flaw in the arguments these people use. They don't care what happens to the cattle, the sheep or the farmer for that matter. To put it in the words of one protester "farmers should just sell all their farms and get real jobs"

Vegan lobbyist's only care about being right. Negative animal welfare outcomes resulting from vegan lobbyists pushing for changes in industries they don't understand are simply blamed on the farmer and I have no doubt that any sort of concession or compromise will only be rewarded with further demands. This has nothing to do with animal welfare, kindness or climate change. This fight is about the slow, deliberate crushing of an iconic Australian industry by slowly destroying markets and increasing our costs to gradually kill us off farmer by farmer.

My friend did come with us that day, she stood shoulder to shoulder with my partner and myself against roughly two thousand protesters, she kept her temper and gave a good account of herself arguing the issues back and forth with both the good and the ignorant people that were present on that warm August day. When she asked me the night before "what difference will it make" my reply was this.

Someday, and I hope that day never comes, your children may ask you "how did it get so bad?"
You can look away, maybe pretend you didn't hear the question or say "I don't know" or you can look them in the eye and say in all honesty "I did everything in my power to stop it, we fought them all the way."

One thing is certain, if we don't fight we lose.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Farmers - Stewards of the environment

It's that time of year again, the warm days and wet weather brings good times, fat cattle and weeds! Weeds are a serious curse down here in Victoria, one or two may look harmless but every thistle or ragwort that is left standing can spew forth thousands of airborne seeds over a wide area, seeds that are capable of surviving in the ground many years while they wait for favorable conditions to strike and multiply.

As a farmer you don't really think about how your management practices are perceived outside your local community but the recent live export debacle has shown me the increasing hostility that some city people are willing to show toward their country cousins.

So there I was bouncing the two wheel drive quad bike through the bush and I had to wish that maybe someone in the city would take the time to appreciate what I was doing. We've preserved close to a hundred acres of bushland on our property, bushland that is home to wallabies, kangaroos, koalas, wombats, echidnas and many other native marsupials. Some might say this land represents lost production, another fifty or a hundred head of cattle we could be running, another hundred acres of peas or potatoes. That hundred acres of bush also represents a cost, a hiding place for weeds and introduced animals like foxes, cats and rabbits that must be kept in check at our own cost.

To us that hundred acres of bushland is a cost we gladly bear.

Trees bring rain and help with retaining moisture, they are an important part of the ecosystem of our farm. Native shelter strips for our cattle also provide corridors for native wildlife to move about. One of the great perks of living in the country is waking up to find the wallabies mowing your lawn for you.

City environmentalists have managed to convince many of our city cousins that farmers are raping the land for all its worth, that livestock production and irrigation on the Murray-Darling can never be sustainable. These lies are taught in our schools and universities like they are cold fact and common knowledge.

I don't want a medal for spending my day wrestling this old bike through the scrub and spraying a few weeds. I want people to recognise that the modern farmer works in harmony with nature, if we don't nature will take us out. Without the work of farmers this land would be over-run with introduced weeds and pests and our regional towns would wither and die. As a farmer I'm proud to say I am a steward of my environment.