Dairy industry’s image important

By QDO President Brian Tessmann

While the dairy industry spends considerable time and effort ensuring we look after the health and welfare of our animals using scientifically justified practices, we should always remain vigilant of how the public sees our processes.

It is time to accept that if radical groups can gain or arrange a vision of an unpleasant on-farm practice, they will. Because of this, many farmers are rightfully frustrated with the apparent lack of equal legal protections available to them. If someone trespassed onto the property of an activist and searched though their property, as well as recorded their daily rituals, the law would take stern and swift action.

Most animal activists see any animal farming as an affront to their sensibilities which puts farmers at risk of being attacked in a tirade of anti-farming propaganda. This is why it’s so important that farmers take suitable precautions and consider first and foremost their on-farm practices. It is essential that we walk in our city-based consumers shoes and consider how best practice would be perceived.

Information resources are available to help dairy farmers stay abreast of current animal management practices. Farmers need to investigate and implement suitable practices for their operation to ensure all animals are as healthy and free from pain and suffering as realistically possible. This should be considered under a critical guise with focus on the management of animals from Downer cows through to bobby calves.

With Queensland having a year-round calving cycle, issues around bobby calves should be limited. However, selective filming will always misrepresent any situation to make it look bad. The major issue for farmers will be that scientifically proven practices may sometimes fail in the court of public perception. As an industry we have some way to go in reassuring the general public of our processes, especially in a world where perception is often greater than truth.