Agriculture Minister John McVeigh says saleyards are a vital part in the cattle supply chain, dismissing concerns expressed late last year by the RSPCA.
“Agriculture is a key contributor to Queensland’s economy and the value of our iconic beef industry makes up a large proportion of the sector,” Mr McVeigh said today.
“Like many who work in or have an interest in agriculture, I was shocked by the recent comments from the RSPCA regarding closures to saleyards.
“Saleyards have been the foundation of our livestock marketing systems through Australia and Queensland since the 1800s.
“They have contributed extensively to the social fabric throughout regional Queensland and are fundamental to our rural culture.
“Whilst cattle are sold directly to meatworks or feedlots, saleyards are still necessary in the cattle sale supply chain.
“For anyone to suggest their closure is both unrealistic and un-Australian.
“My office raised my concerns regarding saleyards with the RSPCA at the first opportunity.
“I am pleased to confirm that the RSPCA have written to me advising that they will not seek the closure of saleyards.
“The welfare of animals during transport to saleyards and whilst at saleyards before selling, is very important to me and I will continue to work with all saleyards to assist and support them.”
In December, the RSPCA released new animal welfare guidelines for beef cattle production, recommending against consigning cattle through saleyards and using dogs in farm yards.
At the time, RSPCA scientific officer Melina Tensen told the ABC that it was stressful for livestock to be transported to saleyards.
“The loading, transporting and unloading of cattle is very stressful to these animals, so the saleyard is essentially an additional step in that process from bringing the animals from the farm to their final destination,” she said.
“We’d hope to see, eventually, saleyards not being necessary at all, because animals can be consigned directly from farm to their final destination.”
Earlier this week, NSW Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan said he had received a statement from the RSPCA saying they were not seeking to ban saleyards.
“Significant improvements to address animal welfare concerns at saleyards have been made in recent times and we will continue to work with saleyard operators to achieve further improvements across the wider industry,” the RSPCA statement said.
“While RSPCA Australia strongly encourages the direct consignment of farm animals because of the inherent stress caused by multiple transport and handling, we recognise that for many producers saleyards will continue to be part of the supply chain.”