Impacts of Government Policy on Animal Agriculture
At the recent WagyuEdge’23 Conference in Sydney, Senator Susan McDonald, a prominent figure in Australian politics and a strong advocate for regional areas, delivered a thought-provoking presentation on the impacts of government policy on animal agriculture. With her deep understanding of the industry and her personal connection to her family property, Senator McDonald shed light on the challenges faced by the agricultural sector and emphasized the need for greater understanding and collaboration between policymakers and farmers. Her presentation highlighted the importance of effective government policy in sustaining and supporting animal agriculture in Australia.
Senator McDonald emphasized that a significant gap exists in the understanding of the challenges faced by businesses, particularly in regional areas, within political administration. With only 1% of the population involved in growing and processing the food and fibre we consume, it is crucial for policymakers to comprehend the intricate workings and unique needs of the agricultural sector. As an experienced senator originating from rural Queensland, Senator McDonald stressed the necessity for parliamentarians to be well-informed about the realities of rural and regional communities.
To better comprehend the implications of government policy on animal agriculture, Senator McDonald briefly outlined the process of how federal laws are made. From the introduction of a bill to its passage through both houses of parliament and subsequent signing by the Governor-General, understanding this process helps shed light on the significance of informed decision-making and the impact it has on the agricultural industry.
There is an evident knowledge gap in Parliament as Senator McDonald drew attention to the fact that many parliamentarians have very little experience in the business side of agriculture. This hinders the formulation of effective policies that consider the challenges faced by farmers. To bridge this gap, she stressed the importance of engaging with farmers and gaining first-hand insights into their experiences. An example of this was the prohibition of live export in 2011 which there has now been a long-delayed live export compensation claim which has been under review for three years. This bill was passed at the time with little understanding of the industry and how it would affect producers and small businesses throughout Australia. The abrupt closure of this market a decade ago had a profound impact on beef prices and affected producers and small businesses across Australia. She stressed the urgency of compensating those who suffered from this decision, with an estimated cost of around 1.2 billion dollars with interest building.
Senator McDonald also noted the issue of labelling plant-based products as “beef” and “chicken,” which can be misleading for consumers. Using terms traditionally associated with animal-derived products for plant-based alternatives creates an unfair advantage for these alternatives by capitalizing on the established reputation and demand for meat products. Accurate labelling is crucial to ensure transparency and fairness in the marketplace.
Senator Susan McDonald’s presentation shed light on the vital role government policy plays in shaping the future of animal agriculture. Greater engagement between policymakers and the agricultural sector is essential to address the challenges faced by farmers and ensure sustainable, quality food and fibre production in Australia. By fostering understanding and collaboration, we can work towards a future where the government’s policies align with the needs of the agricultural industry, ensuring access to high-quality, affordable food for all Australians.
Watch Senator McDonald’s full presentation on our Vimeo Video Series HERE.