Animal rights NGO, Animals Australia, along with three Israeli animal protection groups – Anonymous for Animal Rights, Let the Animals Live, and Israel Against Live Shipments – have launched a campaign to end live exports.
The trade is objectionable to most Australians, due to the horrific conditions sheep and cattle are subjected to on the long voyages, and also upon arrival, where they are kept in feedlots until an often cruel and unregulated slaughter. All in all, these animals are kept in extremely unclean, overcrowded and unattended conditions for months. A great deal has already been written elsewhere about this ongoing horror.
But animal welfare is not necessarily a motive for those concerned over climate change. Here are some reasons I learned for condemning live exports also for environmental reasons:
The shipping of live animals for slaughter overseas is carried out by extremely polluting ships running on diesel fuel.
Upon arrival, excessive pollution is produced by cows in feedlots, by the concentrated animal sewage.
Then, countries often import grain for the feedlots, which in turn perpetuates the unsustainable grain industry in those poorer countries (this results in Dutch Disease – the decline of other sectors to give rise to grain production for export). Export-based economies put local producers at a disadvantage in different ways. But back to the environment.
Yet, Animals Australia has focused on animal welfare in its campaign to stop live exports. It also decided to support the Israeli animal rights NGOs in the hope that if Israel no longer imports Australian meat-producing animals, then its neighbour, Jordan, to which Australia exports a far higher number of livestock, might cease to do so as well.
Since New Zealand ceased the live export trade over a decade ago, its economy has benefitted, and of course so have the sheep.
What’s crucial to remember is the link between the beef industry and commercial vested interests. And agribusiness is extremely powerful. Meat production practices, combined with the forest clearing needed to produce grain for feed, together account for an untold percentage of carbon emissions. It seems outrageous that the myriad unsavoury effects of all this should go largely concealed while the status quo is maintained.
Visit Animals Australia to find out how you can help this campaign.
This post is part of Just Voices #11 – Climate Change.