Ethical animal welfare to build confidence in agriculture

Transparent animal welfare to build confidence in agriculture

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Federal Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon.

Federal Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon.

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The best way to ensure food producers have a strong future is to build public confidence that it's produced in a manner we all expect: Fitzgibbon

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The world looked just a little more crazy this week when we witnessed animal activists chained together in protest over animal rights. 

Animal welfare should always be respected and animal cruelty is never acceptable. Likewise, animal activists should be allowed to express their view but must do so in a respectful, responsible and legal manner.  This is the Australian way. 

If our laws are too weak and are letting our farmers down we should review them.

Almost everything we eat is grown or produced by a farmer and Labor will remain focused on working with them to improve their sustainable profitability in the face of drought and other climatic events.

The overwhelming majority of our farmers and others in the food supply chain do the right thing and most of us still want to eat our steak and other animal-based products.

We should not be demonised for wanting to do so. 

People should be able to make their own choices about what they eat as long as their food of choice is produced in an ethical way.

Likewise, we should respect those who choose not to eat meat.

Sadly, animal welfare activism has been in part fuelled by the failure of government to demonstrate that animal welfare standards are being properly enforced. 

The Abbott Turnbull Morrison Governments have undermined public confidence in some sectors by its regulatory failures in the live export sector and the abolition of Labor's independent Inspector General for Animal Welfare and Live Animal Exports.

The best way to ensure the red meat and other animal based foods have a strong future is to build public confidence that our food is produced in a manner we all expect. 

Our red meat sector is a very important part of our economy. 

The best way to keep it that way is to keep eating its product and to make sure it continues to meet reasonable standards and community expectations on the animal welfare front. 

Government has an important role to play in maintaining community support for red meat and other animal based foods.

It just takes some leadership and the development of a strategic plan for the sector. A Shorten Labor government will deliver both.

Joel Fitzgibbon is Labor's agriculture spokesman.

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