Ministers split on bobby calves

Last Friday’s meeting between Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig and the State and Territory Ministers for Primary Industries has failed to produce an agreement on a national maximum period for time-off-feed for bobby calves.

Ministers allegedly were split between a 30 hour limit, a 24 hour ‘target’ and a 24 hour limit.

Some time ago, Animal Health Australia put up a recommendation which argued 30 hours is satisfactory from a scientific perspective. The animal welfare advocates responded with their own materials, arguing that AHA’s report only showed that 30 hours is satisfactory when everything goes well, including weather conditions being favourable.

Animal welfare advocates have been arguing for an 18 hour limit or target.

(A ‘limit’ would be rigidly enforceable; a ‘target’ would provide some limited flexibility).

A number as low as 18 hours would make it near impossible to move bobby calves through saleyards, which is still the practice in some parts of the country, and that would make it very hard for some of our members to hold onto this work.

The risk for us here is that, if Ministers can’t agree on a single national limit, the States may get picked off one by one and be gradually dragged down towards an impossibly low number.

The four industry associations working on this issue have already met on Monday morning and planned our next steps to urge governments to achieve a nationally uniform decision.

… agree to move ahead with Livex Reforms

Given the huge level of media attention that live export issues have received, it was no surprise that the Ministers agreed to work together to implement the recommendations of the Independent Review of Australia’s Livestock Export Trade (the Farmer Review).

The pressure will now come onto the States to implement the first of the new national animal welfare laws – the livestock transport standards. Ministers have asked for clear progress to be made over the next six months.

… agree to end NLIS exemptions

Ministers have also agreed to cease the exemptions from the national requirement to tag cattle with electronic tags by the end of 2012. Again, this is in line with a recommendation of the Farmer Review to enhance the traceability of cattle.

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