Balance must be right

Janine Mc Dougall, Riddells Creek

As a sometime Labor voter I, like Christine Pruneau (‘Worse off than ever’, Opinions, August 14), am very concerned about the Andrews Labor Government’s reforms to farming in Victoria.
My concern centres on the apparent absence of animal welfare considerations in this alleged attempt to balance agricultural sector advancement with environmental risks. According to the Department of Agriculture’s website, these new reforms include support for some intensive animal production involving cattle (cattle feedlots) which by the department’s own definition means ‘no meaningful grazing’.
Intensive farming means higher stocking densities of animals for economic expediency. The science demonstrates that animals, rather than being commodities, are sentient beings who experience pain and distress in close confinement which denies them their behavioural needs. Hence, intensive farming compromises animal welfare. That a significant sector of the community cares about ethical farming and animal welfare has been demonstrated by the two major supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths beginning a phase out of intensively farmed products since 2012. Moreover, the RSPCA asserts that all routine animal husbandry procedures, including dehorning and castration should be accompanied by some form of pain relief and recommends affordable options for farmers. Yet these important animal welfare considerations do not appear to rate a mention anywhere in this supposed ‘balanced’ approach to farming reform which raises the question were any animal welfare stakeholders consulted in the planning process? Those of us who care about the ethical treatment of animals for humane reasons and/or uphold their intrinsic value as created by a loving God need the balance to be right.

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