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National Farmers' Federation

Animal Welfare

Australian farmers value the trust that the community places in them and know that community acceptance of the way they care for animals is essential to the agriculture industry’s success. The NFF is committed to ongoing and transparent dialogue with the community about the management of animal welfare. Engagement with the community based on trust and transparency is a core tenet of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF)’s plan for a $100 billion agriculture sector by 2030.

Animal welfare is defined by the World Organisation for Animal Health as ‘the physical and mental state of an animal in relation to the conditions in which it lives and dies’. Australian farmers strive to be recognised as global leaders in livestock management by using science-based best practice methods of husbandry based on agreed national minimum welfare standards. Animal welfare is also a legal requirement, and state and territory government are responsible for regulating and enforcing minimum welfare standards.

All animals deserve to be treated with care and respect, and Australian farmers, who care for their animals, are best placed to drive continuous improvement in welfare outcomes within our industry.

Key points:

  • An animal’s welfare is good when it is healthy, well-nourished, safe, comfortable and able to express normal patterns of behaviour, as supported by unbiased scientific evidence. 
  • The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines process is an effective and appropriate method for setting minimum welfare standards that are practical, science-based and developed in consultation with industry. 
  • The NFF supports national consistency in the regulation of animal welfare and continues to encourage the uptake of agreed standards by state and territory governments. 
  • Livestock producers continue to invest many millions of dollars through levies towards research, development, extension and adoption (RDE&A) to drive continuous improvement in animal welfare outcomes.

The issue:

The NFF, together with its members, consistently demonstrates its commitment to continuous improvement in farm animal welfare through national policy and advocacy efforts. Governments and industry must continue to build on what has been achieved, recognising the importance of adopting best practice, science-based husbandry techniques and responding to community expectations about welfare.

The solution:

The NFF is committed to working with its members, governments and others to improve animal welfare outcomes continuously and to ensure Australian farmers are recognised as global leaders. The NFF is in ongoing and transparent dialogue with the community about the management of animal welfare. As our industry works towards continuous improvement in animal welfare practices, industry, governments and the community must focus and align their improvement efforts.

Areas of focus:

Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines: All state and territory governments should legislate to adopt the agreed Standards, with governments committing to resourcing the ongoing development and periodic revision of these standards, in consultation with industry. The standards and guidelines must continue to be informed by unbiased, up to date scientific advice and practical, evidence-based industry experience. 

Research, development, extension and adoption: The Rural Research and Development Corporations must continue to collaborate on animal welfare RDE&A efforts supported by Australian Government matched levy funding for animal welfare RDE&A.

Funding:  The Australian Government should honour funding commitments for industry initiatives that seek to improve the welfare of Australian livestock in-market while streamlining regulatory efficiency. 

What can governments do?

While industry must continue to lead, governments play an important role in supporting and working with industry to ensure good animal welfare outcomes. 

The NFF believes the Australian Government’s role is to:

  • Provide national leadership and coordinate national agricultural animal welfare policy.
  • Drive national consistency in the regulation of animal welfare by state and territory governments. 
  • Coordinate and co-invest with industry in national agricultural animal welfare RDE&A. 
  • Regulate the livestock export industry to ensure acceptable animal welfare outcomes continue to be achieved.
  • Engage bilaterally and multilaterally to influence international policy priorities for animal welfare in line with Australia’s trade interests and in keeping with good animal welfare practice as referenced in the Australian welfare standards.

More Information:

To view the NFF’s animal welfare policy and priorities for industry and government action: click here.

For a full list of recent submissions relating to animal welfare: click here.

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