Not the minister for activists

Not the minister for activists

Keen defender: Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie will use science to support ag's social licence.

Keen defender: Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie will use science to support ag's social licence.


I'll promote farming's social licence by showcasing science, says Ag Minister Bridget McKenzie


It's almost inevitable a public outcry over one farming production system or another will soon confront new agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie, given the high frequency of such events in recent years.

So how will Senator McKenzie handle her first controversy as the federal agriculture leader?

Science will be her foundation for social licence, but she'll pepper her dialogue with a dose rural soundbites.

"I'm the Minister for Agriculture not the minister for activists," she says, adding that she's in the job to "grow an industry and support our primary producers".

Speaking during a visit to an abattoir in Seymour, Victoria, where she praised the workers on Ralph's Meat Company kill floor, Senator McKenzie said Australia could not base industry regulations "on how we feed the world and how people produce food on anything other than science".

"We need to stand up and be proud of the scientific approach we take in this country, whether it's the use of glyphosate, the science we use to assess animal welfare outcomes, and so on," she said.

Senator McKenzie said the live sheep trade controversy of last year, where images of animals dying in horrific conditions shocked the public, demonstrated that poor animal welfare opens the door for an industry's opponents to set zealous regulations.

"When we lose social licence we can see an aspect of inappropriate parameters put on it, and that very much becomes then a standard that animal activists use in other industries," she said.

"I think the live cattle industry, and the livestock transport industry domestically, would be watching the science that we use very, very carefully.

"We must ensure that it's robust enough to ensure that all animal transport - whether it's domestic or international - can be conducted in the way it still is.

"The great learning out of out of the sheep incident is that all of us that are involved in rearing livestock for human consumption need to make sure that's done in a humane way, and I've never met a farmer that doesn't do that. But we have had some terrible incidents."

Senator McKenzie was hopeful a new government initiative would be particularly beneficial for the livestock sector.

Details are yet to be released, but during the election campaign the government pledged $10 million to take city kids to farms to educate them about agriculture.

"I'm really keen to make sure that isn't just about growing carrots and collecting eggs," Senator McKenzie said.

"It's actually understanding that raising livestock does come to an end and at the end of that you have a beautiful piece of Australian meat and and that's a good thing."

The story Not the minister for activists first appeared on Farm Online.


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