Beef producers shouldn't fear their industry is facing "Armageddon" following a recent spate of feedlot and farm invasions by radical animal activists.
Steve Martin, operations manager at the acclaimed Kerwee feedlot at Jondaryan on Queensland's Darling Downs said the vast majority of Australia's beef markets were happy with our animal welfare and QA programs.
He told the Australian Wagyu Association's annual conference in Adelaide that Australia's beef was produced to welfare standards comparable to the best in the world.
Mr Martin, who is also a board member of the Australian Lot Feeders Association, said the industry's animal welfare credentials were extremely strong and producers had nothing to hide.
He said the industry needed to tell its stories better to counter the "noisy crickets" now attacking the livestock sector.
The industry should be proud of its production system and not be "jumping at shadows".
The growing debate about the cattle sector's greenhouse gas emissions was likely to place a sharper focus on feed efficiency, he said.
Kerwee feedlot had installed solar power while the wider industry had a genuine desire to become more carbon neutral.
He said animal activists had stepped up their attacks and the animal welfare and greenhouse gas debate was significant and fast-moving.
"But I don't think it's an Armageddon that's going to blindside us," he said.
Mr Martin was talking during a panel discussion which included two other leading feedlotters.
Berry Reynolds, private client manager at Mort and Co, which has two feedlots on the Darling Downs, said the industry had adopted world's best animal welfare practices.
He said if the activists had turned up at one of his company's feedlots he would have loaded them onto a bus and shown them their operations and explained their protocols.
Andrew Malloy, livestock procurement manager at the Rangers Valley feedlot near Glen Innes, said the activists had been targeting smaller operators.
But he said the industry had to keep its "backyard clean", too.
He said one major problem producers could help overcome was to preg test their Wagyu blood heifer weaners before sending them to feedlots.
Wagyus were extremely fertile and heifers calving in feedlots was a problem.
The three feedlotters painted a picture of an industry under pressure because of high feed costs.
They also said Wagyu breeders had to work harder on lifting marbling in their herds so Australia could lift the value of its premium-quality beef exports.
Marble score four and five beef were no longer cutting it at the premium end of the market.
The conference in the Adelaide Convention Centre has attracted Wagyu breeders from across the country.
The conference marks 30 years of the Australian Wagyu Association. Australia has the largest Wagyu herd outside of Japan.
The conference will continue today and tomorrow before a farm tour in South Australian and Victoria at the weekend.
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