Vol. 15 | No. 2 | May 2018

Why farmers must be involved in the animal welfare policy environment

Rob Egerton-Warburton
Before spending the past year on the RSPCA WA Board, the definition of animal welfare was not something I’d ever had reason to question much. However, it seems that my definition as a farmer is very different to that arrived at by people from other backgrounds. It all comes down to death versus discomfort. As a farmer, keeping livestock alive and healthy is the primary goal which preoccupies most – if not all – management decisions. (more)



Heather Neil, RSPCA Australia, and David Jochinke, Victorian Farmers Federation, answer the questions about Australian farm animal welfare practices and how farm animal welfare should be assessed. Should physiological indicators be used, or will farm animal welfare standards ultimately be determined by consumer sentiment? Should consumers make decisions about animal welfare standards via accurate labelling, or should retailers dictate what practices are acceptable? Does Australia need common national farm animal welfare standards? (more)


For over a century, agricultural statistics produced by ABS and ABARES have contributed to knowledge and understanding of the Australian agriculture sector. Agricultural policy, research and development activities and funding, and the production, marketing, trade and distribution of commodities have all relied on these statistics. An abundance of data and advances in big data analysis and visualisation has however recently been providing alternatives to some traditional agricultural statistics sources. (more)


Australia’s agricultural performance has historically been underpinned by high volume exports of commodities such as wheat, wool and beef. However, high value markets for fresh produce are now a significant driver of growth and these markets require a dedicated approach to establishing and maintaining the provenance of ‘clean’ production. This was one of the key messages from ABARES Outlook 2018 – an annual convention reporting on the economic performance of and forecasting trends for the agricultural sector – which the AFI research team attended in March. (more)


US President Trump’s about-face on the TPP has been called ‘a jaw-dropping policy reversal’ and is not good news for Australian farmers. Dr Wendy Craik is undertaking an independent review of the EPBC Act. Australia’s largest dairy company, Murray Goulburn, will be sold to its Canadian competitor Saputo at the start of May. Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has announced a ‘short, sharp review’ into live sheep exports to the Middle East. (more)


The divide between urban and rural attitudes on certain subjects has never been more evident than in the current community discussion about the management of kangaroos in rural Australia. The issue has been brought to the fore by the release of a documentary called Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story, which has been promoted in Europe by Australian federal politicians attempting to stop exports of kangaroo products. (more)


Founding Executive Director Mick Keogh will leave the Institute on 29 May 2018 to take up a full-time role as a Commissioner of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), with a focus on agricultural and small business issues. Mick has been working with the ACCC in a part-time capacity since February 2016. The Board has appointed General Manager Research Richard Heath as the new Executive Director. (more)