First commercial cultivated steak product

Aleph Farms is heading towards the transfer of its commercial product – thin-cut beef steaks – into proprietary platform suitable for mass cultivation. The steaks, grown directly from non-GMO cells of a living cow, boast nutritional, culinary, and sensory attributes of meat in terms of texture, flavour and aroma, claims the company. The company has developed five proprietary modules for its unique mass production platform, set to bring the product to cost parity with conventional meat at scale.
The prototype of its commercial product will be first introduced at the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit on November 20th in Singapore as part of a virtual cooking demonstration hosted by Aleph Farms’ resident chef and VisVires New Protein VC.
The company beefed-up its proof-of-concept released in 2018, increased the size of its slaughter-free product, and adapted it to fit controlled, automated bioprocesses to ensure economic viability in large-scale production.
The move marks a major leap in Aleph Farms’ goal of making cultivated meat widely available in the global community. The company is currently transitioning its commercial products to pilot plant (BioFarmT). The pilot launch is planned for the end of 2022.
“One of the big challenges of cultivated meat is the ability to produce large quantities efficiently at a cost that can compete with conventional meat industry pricing, without compromising on quality,” says Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms. “We have developed five technological building blocks unique to Aleph Farms that are put into a large-scale production process, all patented by the company.”
Meat cultivation: process of design that is inspired by nature
Aleph Farms’ platform for cultivating steaks mirrors the natural process of tissue regeneration processes that occur in the animal’s body, but outside of it and under controlled conditions. The process is designed to use a fraction of the resources required for raising an entire animal for meat, and without antibiotics.
To successfully grow whole pieces of meat, compared to minced meat product, the company mimics the extra-cellular matrix found in animals with a plant-based matrix that enables the cells to grow and form structured tissues of meat. Its ‘cell-banks’ yield an unlimited source of pluripotent, non-GMO cow cells’ for growing large quantities of meat without the dependency on living animals.
Aleph Farms has designed patented tissue cultivators to facilitate the biological process occurring in vivo, providing the warmth and basic animal-free elements needed to build tissue in nature. This includes water, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
The gastronomical experience of Aleph Farms’ steak
The company has perfected the structure of its product so that it embodies the familiar texture, taste, cooking behavior, as well nutritional qualities of conventional slaughter-based steaks.
“Aleph Farms is establishing a new category of meat, imbued with its own culture and a new world of meaty experiences,” enthuses Amir Ilan, the company’s Resident Chef.
“It’s not enough to just make a protein that will fill the nutritional gap; we need to capture the fullness of the meat-eating experience,” adds Toubia. As a French native with roots in food culture, and having studied food engineering in Dijon, Toubia brings his appreciation of gastronomic tradition to his unique cultivation technology. “Meat can be cultivated from cells isolated from different animal breeds, have different cuts, and it elicits different emotions. We see Aleph Farms as crafters of experiences.” Toubia concludes.

Pepe’s Ducks fined $400,000 for false claims

The Federal Court handed down its decision late last year on the Pepe’s Ducks ‘open range’ saga, ordering the company to pay $400,000 in penalties.

The company will pay $375,000 in civil penalties and $25,000 in legal costs.

The court also laid down the following orders:

  • Pepe’s Ducks may not use the phrases ‘open range’ or ‘grown nature’s way’ on its packaging, website, vehicles, signage, stationery or merchandise for the next three years.
  • The image of the 'open range' duck may not be used for a period of three years unless it is accompanied by the phrase 'barn raised.'
  • It must implement a trade practices compliance program by February 1, 2013 and maintain it for three years.
  • The company must feature corrective notices on its website and premises, and provide them to its customers.

The case arose back in July 2012 when activists captured footage of the so-called 'open range' ducks living in crowded, dirty pens, with many suffering poor health. 

The ACCC subsequently filed a writ in the Federal Court, accusing the company of false advertising, objecting to its use of the slogan 'grown nature’s way' and its logo that contains the image of a duck out in the open, walking towards a lake amidst a mountainous backdrop.

A press release published on the ACCC website reads “the ACCC welcomes the Court orders and notes that this decision continues its focus upon protecting consumers from misleading statements regarding food production methods.”

Pepe's Ducks slaughters over 70,000 ducks each week, and is one of the country's largest suppliers of duck meat.

 

Animal cruelty in Israeli abattoir reignites live export debate

A video showing Israeli abattoir workers poking cattle in the eyes and genitals with an electric prodder has reignited the live export debate in Australia.

Last night's 7.30 program released details of workers at Israel's largest abattoir, Bakar Tnuva being "liberal with their use of the electric stun gun", targeting the eyes, genitals and anus.

An abattoir worker also claimed that injured animals who refuse to move are dragged by their front leg behind a forklift.

The revelations have reignited debate about Australia's live exports, especially considering this film was recorded two months after the abattoir was approved under the federal government's animal welfare guidelines.

The film was captured on a hidden camera in September by an undercover Israeli journalist and vegal animal rights activist, Ronen Bar, who worked at Bakar Tnuva for 19 days. It has since been broadcast in Israel, causing a public outcry and prompting a criminal investigation.

Bar told 7.30 animal cruelty at the abattoir was a regular occurrence and the animals subject to it were often from Australia.

"These are the regular procedures, it's not what was shown, is not something special or something that is not everyday regularity," he said.

"Some of the cattle I filmed the ear tags and it says AUS, Australian. Also the workers told me that the cows are Australian, and the managers… most of the calves that are slaughtered there are Australian."

However, two of the three Australian companies previously exporting to Bakar Tnuva – Elders International and Livestock Shipping Services –  claim the cattle in the footage isn't theirs.

The RSPCA is calling on the Australian government to reject any applications by exporters which involve the Bakar Tnuva facility, and says live exports should be banned.

Bidda Jones, RSPCA Australia chief scientist, said "The fact that a facility like this, with such entrenched problems can pass an ESCAS [Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System] audit casts a huge shadow over the entire supply chain assurance system. The entire process rests on the veracity of the auditing arrangements.

"This is proof that no scheme or agreements can fully safeguard the welfare of animals exported live overseas for slaughter. No matter how much industry or government involvement there is, the live export trade presents an unacceptable level of risk for the animals and is inherently cruel."

In a joint statement issued by the National Farmers' Federation, the Australian Livestock Exporters' Council, the Cattle Council of Australia and the Sheepmeat Council of Australia, Jock Laurie, president of the National Farmers’ Federation said swift action has been taken.

"The abattoir has taken swift and decisive action which has included the removal of the abattoir manager and other staff seen in the footage mistreating the animals.

"We understand that CCTV cameras are to be installed, and at the request of the importer, industry-funded training consultants are currently on the ground in Israel to instigate a comprehensive training program at the facility," said Laurie.

Earlier this year live exports were temporarily banned after ABC's Four Corners aired footage of animal cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs. While the ban helped ease concerns of the general public, concerned about the treatment of Australian animals, industry members were concerned about how such bans would affect their livelihoods. Read more here.

 

Government and beef industry unite to control Bovine Johne’s disease

Industry and government are on the same page when it comes to the management of Bovine Johne's disease (BJD), said Queensland's minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, John McVeigh.

Earlier this week McVeigh met with beef industry representatives to discuss the status of the disease, and said the government's position reflects that of the industry.

"The Newman government has dedicated significant resources to manage the situation and Biosecurity Queensland is working with industry to retain our Protected Zone status for BJD," McVeigh said.

"Industry groups including AgForce, Cattle Council of Australia and the Australian Brahman Breeders’ Association are working with us to manage the situation.

"We have a very low prevalence of BJD in Queensland and it's really important for industry that we maintain this status.

"Having a low prevalence of BJD facilitates exports and provides Queensland producers with greater market access than other parts of Australia that do not have protected status," said McVeigh.

A number of measures are in place to manage the disease, including risk assessments, sampling and testing on affected properties including one property near Rockhampton (the only to be confirmed as being infected with BJD) where three out of 600 heads of cattle had BJD.

"Movement restrictions are now in place on 150 properties that have received animals from the infected property," said McVeigh.

He said movement restrictions must remain in place until a property's disease status is resolved, and that the government is working hard to prioritise testing.

"Testing is being undertaken by Biosecurity Queensland and should the need arise we have contingency plans in place to manage the volume of tests required.

"As the nature of BJD testing is complex it can take 12 weeks or more to obtain results. Biosecurity Queensland is in contact with Sydney University about a new diagnostic test they are developing.

"As soon as this new test is available and validated in the laboratory in Queensland, the government will be able to start using the test," he said.

For more information visit www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au

 

Russia lifts ban on kangaroo meat imports

Russia has eased its import restrictions on kangaroo meat, a move welcomed by the Australian kangaroo meat industry.

Australia’s largest kangaroo meat supplier Macro Meats has secured permission from the Russian quarantine authority to begin exportation of their product after their site and operations were inspected over a three week period, the ABC reported.

Restrictions were put in place four years prior following Russian claims that the trade presented food safety concerns, citing high levels of E. coli and salmonella.

Government and industry groups have extensively lobbied the restrictions for the past four years after the suspensions brought the industry to its knees, wiping out more than half of the $120 million export sector.

Russia once accounted for 70 percent of exports for the commercial kangaroo industry and insiders said the decision to lift the ban is estimated to bring a $200 million boost to the kangaroo meat industry, marking the move a significant turning point.

"I think what they want to do is just start it and see how it goes and then gradually let more in depending on how we perform," Macro Meats manager Ray Borda said.

"There's a lot of weight on our shoulders to do the right thing."

However, this result to remove the ban isn’t just assisting the meat production industry.

Land owners and farmers are now also looking at the industry win as a way to control kangaroo population numbers.

New South Wales Bombala Shire mayor Bob Stewart is currently lobbying the state government to allow kangaroo culling after favourable seasonal conditions has seen populations swell, the ABC reported.

“With the better seasons here in the last two or three years, the kangaroo population has grown dramatically,” Stewart said.

Stewart stated that an increase in demand for kangaroo meat may now attract professional hunters.

“If we can get commercial value out of many in the kangaroo population it is only going to benefit all the landholders with the problem we have,” he said.

“I'm sure once there is a market and demand, then we will have people come in and take advantage of the situation which I think will be advantage to everybody,” he said.

Earlier this year Food Magazine reported that Australia’s commercial kangaroo industry is the world’s largest consumptive mammalian wildlife industry. Calculated on a ten-year period, an average of three million adult kangaroos are killed each year in the rangelands for pet meat, meat for human consumption and hides.

At the time a representative from the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia said “I think we are starting to have to seriously consider the end of the kangaroo industry nationally.”

 

Bleak outlook for WA beef producers

After confirmation that Indonesia will be reducing its beef import quota next year, leaders in the WA cattle industry have returned from a trade mission with serious concerns.

According to thewest.com.au, Federal agriculture minister, Joe Ludwig, confirmed Indonesia will reduce its beef import quota to 80,000 tonnes next year, with Australia's live exports falling from 283,000 this year to 238,000 in 2013.

West Australian producers are expected to be the hardest hit by Indonesia's push towards a self sufficient beef industry.

Dale Park, president of WAFarmers, who attended the mission, said Indonesia wont be able to sustain a beef industry as it's already eating into its breeding stock. He added that the trade mission visited empty feedlots and a Jakarta abattoir which has cut processing by 75 percent because it's running out of cattle.

"Virtually all the feed lots are empty and even when they do get this latest quota in, they will still be operating at about 25 per cent of capacity," he said.

Park also raised concerns for local producers who have invested in cattle for the Indonesian market, many of whom are still struggling in the wake of the federal government's temporary ban of live exports last year.

According to thewest.com.au the export ban created doubts about the reliability of exports from Australia and caused Indonesia to look elsewhere.

 

Pork producers face tough competition this festive season

Imported pork products and confusing labelling standards are making it difficult for Australian producers to stand out from the crowd, says leading Australian butcher, Adam Stratton.

Stratton, runs the Tender Value Meats chain in Sydney and is urging consumers to buy local products when doing their Christmas ham shopping.

"Around 22 million kilograms of ham is sold in Australia at Christmas time, but unfortunately, not all of that is sourced from Australia.

"It is important that customers know that the ham they serve for Christmas lunch might have spent three months on a boat being shipped in from overseas," he said.

Stratton said the vast majority of Australians prefer to buy Australian made and produced goods, but are often confused by misleading labelling.

"Ninety percent [of Australians] would rather buy Australian products, and the labelling on the packaging should be more clear about what's imported and what isn’t," he told Food magazine.

"[For example], on the back of a packet it might say ‘Made from local and imported ingredients’ and the local ingredients are the salt and the water, when they cure it here, but the imported product is the actual ham. So it gets a bit confusing."

Stratton is urging producers and consumers to embrace the pink Australian PorkMark logo, which guarantees the product is exclusively Australian.

"If we're going to be fair dinkum and we want people to buy Australian we need to label them correctly and not leave silly little loopholes … What you’ve got to look for is the pink Australian pork label. That is a 100 percent guarantee that it's an Australian product. If you want to buy Australian, look for that pink sticker," he said.

 

Striking workers want bigger piece of the pie

Workers at western Sydney pie factory, Sargent's Pies, have gone on strike, calling for a 99 cent per hour pay rise.

According to news.com.au, more than 100 workers at Sargent's Pies, which accounts for about half of Sydney's meat pie market, have today walked off the job and formed a picket line outside the Colyton factory.

NSW spokesman for the National Union of Workers, Mark Ptolemy, said the strike came about after the company refused to satisfy employees' demand for a 99 cent per hour pay rise.

"The company have said they're not going to go above three percent, but we're asking for six percent," he said.

"That equates to a 99 cent addition to their current hourly rate of $16 per hour, which they've been on for many years."

Ptolemy added "They've been getting ripped off for far too long, and they simply can't afford not to get a six per cent increase."

Workers are expected to renew industrial action in the new year if their demands aren't met.

 

Pet food passed off for quality meat

Australian customers unwittingly bought pet food and maggot-ridden offcuts from some of the nation’s leading meat producers, newly released documents show.

Evidence presented to Justice Albert Woodward in a 1980s royal commission, which has only recently been made public, show Hammond Wholesale and Retail Meats sold pet food-grade meats to consumers without their knowledge.

Other companies passed off kangaroo, donkey, and other pet-food only meats, and sent low-quality scraps to be used in dim sims, according to Fairfax Media.

Meat that was described by a veterinarian officer as “rubbish and floor sweeping” and “eligible for pet food only” was also sold to consumers in Adelaide.

In the royal commission Justice Woodward said Melbourne meat company Steiger’s Meat Supply had “purchased considerable quantities of pet food which was injected into the human food chain”.

“The flesh of donkeys, goats, kangaroos, buffaloes and horses, killed in the field and without regard to any consideration of hygiene … was used indiscriminately to produce food for human consumption,” he said.

In other damning evidence on the meat industry an abattoir in the Northern Territory was described as filthy with “maggots”.

The details of the inquiry have come to light after a 20 year freedom of information battle led by Fairfax journalist Jack Waterford.

You can read more about the investigation here.

Listeria found at three meat processing plants

Meat containing listeria at three processing plants in Wellington and Porirua in New Zealand has been reported to health officials.

Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious illness. People most at risk include pregnant women, unborn or newborn babies, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

Regional Public Health and the Ministry of Primary Industries are investigating the plants after meat samples at two of the plants tested positive for listeria during routine checks.

The third plant discovered listeria via its own testing and reported the results to health officials.

Medical Officer of Health Margot Mclean told stuff.co.nz that only one case of a person contracting listeria had been reported in the past six months and said the case was not linked to any of the plants under investigation.

"It's a reasonably rare infection. The cases that we are notified about are at the severe end of the spectrum," she said.

In September, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) called for submissions on a proposal to review existing limits for listeria in the Food Standards Code.

Dr Duncan Craig, FZANZ’s principal microbiologist, said questions needed to be asked around what can be defined as a ready-to-eat product and what conditions supported the growth of listeria.

“The higher risk products for Listeria are ready to eat products We are particularly concerned about products that have a long shelf life and which are kept refrigerated for a long time,” Duncan told Food Magazine.

“We are also interested in asking questions around the need to have regulatory limits for listeria.”

The FSANZ website advises the best way to avoid the bug is to ‘eat freshly cooked or freshly prepared food’ and avoid cold meats, chilled seafood and unpasturied dairy products. They also advise to cook food thoroughly and use leftovers within 24 hours.

Ridley acquires meat rendering business

Ridley Corporation has acquired Victoria's largest red meat and poultry renderer for $77 million.

According to the company the acquisition "secures strategic feed inputs [for the company] and strengthens its positions as a link in sustainable protein production".

It went on to say that this expands the company’s "capabilities to include rendering of red meat from mammalian products".

BPL is the largest rendered in Victoria, and processes around 240kt of poultry and red meat offal through separate manufacturing lines, and was previously owned by Baiada.

The rendering process at the site converts animal products not fit for human consumption into products for the livestock, pet food, and aquafeed industries.

Ridley stated that the BPL manufacturing business is complementary with its existing Camilleri business, and continues the growth of its supply chain of strategic feed ingredients.

It added that he plant is already in close proximity to key Ridley mills.

Victorian food and fibre exports worth almost $9 billion

A new Department of Primary Industries (DPI) report has found Victoria is Australia’s main exporter of food and fibre, up more than 10 per cent from last year.

The latest growth figures in the “Growing Food and Fibre Performance” report show that in 2011-12 Victoria exported $9 billion of food and fibre, up 11 per cent from the previous period.

The value of food exports from Victoria in the period was $7 billion, an increase of $745 million from the previous financial year, while the fibre products including animal fibre, skins and hides was up $164 million, valued at $1.94 billion in 2011-12.

Victoria made up almost 30 per cent of Australia’s total food and fibre exports, making it the leading state for the export of the products.

The report showed Victoria’s top food and fibre customer during the period was China, which imported $1.9 billion worth.

Japan was the second biggest importer at $816 million and New Zealand was third, with $484 million in export sales.

The report is part of the four-year Victorian government plan to grow the food and fibre export industry, which employs more than 141 900 Victorians and accounts for one in six jobs in regional and rural Victoria.

Of the food and fibre exports, dairy and grains were the most valuable, accounting for more than 40 per cent of the total value of food and fibre exports, despite Victorian dairy exports being down 1 per cent from the previous year to $1.93 billion.

Over 85 per cent of all Australia’s dairy exports come from Victoria, with milk and cream products valued at $940 million and cheese and whey products $699 million.

Japan was still the largest market for Victorian dairy exports, importing $428 million in 2011-12.

Exports to Singapore were valued at $190 million, those to China were $144 million and Indonesia imported $138 million of dairy products.

Victorian grain exports experienced a massive increase in value in 2011-12, up more than 60 per cent from the previous year to $1.81 billion.

Reported wheat exports were valued at $1.12 billion, totalling 62 per cent of Victoria’s grain exports, with Vietnam the most valuable market, valued at $233 million.

Meat export values were down $76 million from the precious year to $1.58 billion.

Victoria accounted for 20 per cent of Australia’s total meat export value.

Beef exports from Victoria decreased by 10 per cent to $606 million and sheep meat exports decreased by 8 per cent to be valued at $601 million. 

Sheep meat accounted for 38 per cent of Victoria’s meat exports in 2011-12.

Exports to the United States were up 1 per cent to $242 million in the period, while Japan and China also remaining significant importers.

Victorian animal fibre products were valued at $1.45 billion, an increase of 14 per cent compared to 2010-11, equating to 54 per cent of the value of Australia’s wool exports.

Man’s arm trapped in machine at meat processing plant

A man had his arm trapped in a machine at a meat processing plant in New Zealand this morning.

Emergency services were called to the Te Kuiti Meat Processors, south of Hamilton, in the North Island this morning about 11.45am.

The man’s arm was freed and he was flown to Waikato Hospital with severe injuries, according to a St John Ambulance spokesman.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is making preliminary inquiries into the incident and Te Kuiti Meat Processors' has not yet commented on the incident.

Second north-west food bowl on the agenda

Cloncurry mayor says there are opportunities for a second ‘food bowl’ in the region that are environmentally viable.

Cloncurry mayor Andrew Daniels says an irrigation sector is needed for the region which could also be used to service the town’s new beef abattoir, the ABC reported.

"[We'd need] probably less than two-and-a-half per cent of the water that flows past Cloncurry," he said.

"There's something like 124,000 megalitres on average goes down the Cloncurry River.

"If we can get 250 or 300 megalitre storages – three or four of them – to get pilot projects up and running, I think that will be sufficient. It won't have any environmental impact."

Daniels says irrigation would help to ensure cattle properties were sustainable.

"We need to have some sort of security around feed. Surely the writing is on the wall with that disastrous decision about the live export, we are really starting to see the consequences and if we don't try to help ourselves there'll be a lot more people hitting the wall."

The new beef abattoir at Cloncurry is part of a bigger project to create and sustain agricultural development in the Richmond and Flinders shires.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister John McVeigh said a local abattoir would lower the cost of supply chains for graziers.

Australia’s commercial kangaroo industry: hopping to nowhere

Australia’s commercial kangaroo industry is the world’s largest consumptive mammalian wildlife industry. Calculated on a ten-year period, an average of three million adult kangaroos are killed each year in the rangelands for pet meat, meat for human consumption and hides. But pressures on the industry may well see its collapse.

For example, despite years of negotiations, Russia is still refusing to lift its ban on Australia’s kangaroo meat. Russia once accounted for 70% of exports from the commercial kangaroo industry. But in August 2009, the country banned imports of kangaroo meat from Australia due to hygiene concerns, citing high levels of E. coli and salmonella. Despite the Australian Government investing at least $400,000 to address these issues, Russia remains unconvinced about food safety. The ban may be here to stay.

Another lucrative kangaroo product is leather, used for soccer shoes and other high value products. Adidas, a leading supplier of sport shoes, has also banned kangaroo leather due to concerns for the welfare of dependent young kangaroos killed or abandoned as a result of the commercial kill.

These bans do not bode well. A representative from the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia was recently reported saying: “I think we are starting to have to seriously consider the end of the kangaroo industry nationally.”

But how did we end up here? And where can we go?

European and colonial contact with kangaroos

In 1770, Captain James Cook described the kangaroo as being like a mouse in colour, a greyhound in size and shape but a hare or deer in locomotion. Europeans killed kangaroos initially as a food source for the colonies and then later for recreation. However, in the 1800s pastoralists increasingly saw kangaroos and other marsupials as “pests” that needed to be killed.

By the 1880s, all of the states of eastern Australia had introduced legislation for the destruction of kangaroos and wallabies. For example, NSW’s Pasture and Stock Protection Act 1880 declared kangaroos and wallabies to be vermin and bounties were offered for their heads. As a result, a massive number of these animals were killed.

From 1883 to 1920, NSW killed around 3 million bettongs and potoroos (Potoroids). Three of these species are now extinct (possibly due in part to the introduction of the red fox). Although all macropods are now protected species, the long shadow of these efforts at extermination are still felt today.

Concern for kangaroos

Scientific study of kangaroos developed during the 20th century, resulting in an increased interest in their conservation. In 1969, CSIRO researcher John Calaby argued that the red kangaroo had become endangered due to “uncontrolled meat hunting and drought”. In 1974, the United States Government banned the import of kangaroo products.

In response, the Commonwealth Government banned the export of kangaroo products and took some power over the industry from the state governments. The Commonwealth’s ban was later lifted and a regulatory system with quotas was put in place. This still operates today.

 

The Australian government carefully regulates the export of kangaroo meat. jazzijava/Flickr

 

Pest status

From its earliest beginnings, the kangaroo industry has relied upon popular perceptions of kangaroos as “pests”, particularly in rural communities. Even today it is frequently argued that kangaroo populations must be reduced. Common reasons cited are that they compete with livestock for resources in the rangelands and that their numbers have increased because of the installation of artificial waterholes.

However, the programs of management have not correlated with increased pastoral productivity, and long-term observations in north-western NSW indicate that kangaroos and livestock only compete when pasture is drought-affected. Kangaroos and livestock have different foraging styles that generally lead to the two groups being ecologically separate.

The red kangaroo, which is the most abundant rangeland species, does not show water-focused grazing as livestock do.

The latest economic assessment found that kangaroos cost pastoralists around $44 million a year. The cost to graziers was estimated at $15.5 million. The cost to crop farmers was estimated to be $11.9 million and fencing damage was estimated at $16.7 million.

This assessment did not take account of any of the benefits of having kangaroos in the landscape. Indeed, kangaroos have 16 million years of evolutionary history in the Australian landscape and may contribute to its well being.

Where to from here

If the commercial kangaroo industry collapsed tomorrow, it appears likely that some landowners may take matters into their own hands and shoot kangaroos non-commercially. Such an occurrence may present a risk to the conservation of kangaroos and to their welfare. Research by the RSPCA found that there is a far higher degree of cruelty in non-commercial killing than in commercial killing. Issues arise around the decreased accuracy of shooting by farm personnel.

It is time for the federal and state governments to reassess kangaroo management. The industry has been based upon erroneous underpinnings, portraying kangaroos as “pests” without any clear justification. Landowners may need options in the cases where kangaroos are reducing the productivity of their properties. But shooting kangaroos does not need to be the first response.

One option being trialled in other countries are insurance policies whereby pastoralists are able to insure against damage caused by a particular wild species and receive payments when damage occurs. Another approach is for landholders to benefit from wildlife via ecotourism. Perhaps it is time for Australia to consider such approaches and take pride in our kangaroos.

This article is partly based upon Keely Boom et al, ‘'Pest’ and resource: A legal history of Australia’s kangaroos' (2012) 1(1) Animal Studies Journal 17-40.

Keely Boom works for THINKK, the Think Tank for Kangaroos at the University of Technology Sydney. THINKK is supported by the Sherman Foundation, the Institute for Sustainable Futures, Voiceless: the animal protection institute, WSPA, the Clover Moore Salary Trust Fund, IFAW and the Albert George and Nancy Caroline Youngman Trust.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

QLD govt lends support to Cloncurry meatworks

The Queensland government has gotten behind a possible abattoir in the north-west of the state, because they say it will provide more opportunities for producers.

The potential meat works, earmarked for Cloncurry, would offer options for meat cattle producers throughout the whole of Queensland, according to Queensland’s 

Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister John McVeigh.

He said since Queensland is the largest cattle producing state in Australia, accounting for almost 50 per cent of Australian beef and up to 10 per cent of live cattle exports, it makes sense for a new abattoir to be developed in the region.

“Cattle producers in the Gulf-Savannah and Mt Isa to Townsville (MITEZ) regions of Queensland are faced with expensive cattle transportation to southern feedlots, south east Queensland processors or live export ports in the north,” he said.

A local abattoir would lower the cost of supply chains for graziers and there would be significant advantages to building the meat works in Cloncurry, he said.

McVeigh believes the proposed site would offer good road access across north west Queensland and through to the Northern Territory, suitable finishing areas and future irrigated fodder production areas.

“It is now up to commercial operators or joint venture capitalists to get on board this amazing opportunity to help turn this opportunity into a reality,” McVeigh said.

But Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean has voiced some concerns over the plans, saying operators and investors would have to be convinced about the abattoir’s potential for it to go ahead.

In June, when it was revealed that the Cloncurry plant and another in Darwin were planned for Australia’s north, Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, said the close proximity of the facilities will not be a problem.

North Beef member and cattle producer Rob Atkinson requested MITEZ organise the initial study into a North West abattoir.

He now says the findings in the report have added “weight and proof” to the argument that a meat works was a viable and sustainable proposal for North West Queensland.

Atkinson agreed with McVeigh, saying a Cloncurry meat works would be hugely beneficial to cattle producers across the state.

“It costs a lot less in freight for boxed beef rather than live cattle,” he said.

“It has animal welfare benefits, with a processing plant closer to where the animals are reared it means less time in trucks for them.

“There will be a lot less road damage by the trucks and less driver fatigue issues.”

“When we cart live cattle a long way we get what we call shrinkage, which is dehydration of the animals while they’re in the trucks.

“As a producer because we’re paid by meat works on carcass weight if there’s been “shrinkage” it’s less profitable for the producer.

“A nearby meat works would reduce that factor. “

Are you a Queensland cattle producer? What do you think of the proposed meat works?

Authorities pledge continued commitment to sheep in Pakistan

The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and the Australian High Commission in Pakistan have pledged to continue their involvement in resolving the large consignment of sheep being held in Karachi.

News of the inhumane treatment of the sheep in Pakistan first broke last week, evoking memories of the infamous Four Corners story this time last year, which led to Prime Minister Julia Gillard banning live export to Indonesia.

In that case, sheep were shown in video footage to be distressed and brutally murdered.

The latest Pakistan incident led to the culling of Australian livestock in Pakistan being formally suspended on 22 September after the importer successfully applied for a court order to prevent the cull from continuing.

Video has emerged of thousands of Australian sheep being brutally culled in Pakistan, with the animals being clubbed, stabbed and buried alive.

The 21,000 sheep arrived in Karachi earlier this month after being given a clean bill of health by both Pakistan and Australian government officials.

However, local authorities ordered the culling, stating the animals had salmonella and anthrax.

Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said that while his department would conduct a full investigation in to the incident, he insisted the live export program works well and would continue.

The DAFF said it is aware of, and is looking into, the adverse reports regarding culling practices in Pakistan, and will continue to be actively involved in the case.

On 28 September the High Court of Sindh in Pakistan adjourned delaying its decision on an application by the Pakistan importer, PK Livestock, to overturn a cull order from the Sindh Livestock Department. 

The intention of the delay is to allow further testing and diagnostic analysis to be conducted by an independent also ordered PK Livestock to continue having full and unhindered access to the sheep to ensure they are adequate cared for.

This encompasses ensuring the supply of feed, water and veterinary medicines, which will be done in collaboration with Australian exporter, Wellard Rural Exports.

Wellard Rural Exports reports that the sheep, exported under the new Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS), are in good condition, have access to feed and fresh water and display no signs of disease.

Australian livestock exporters responsible for ensuring they meet the requirements of ESCAS, which stipulates exporters must ensure that livestock will be handled in accordance with internationally accepted World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) standards up to and including the point of slaughter.

Previously, Wellard Rural Exports self-reported a loss of control over their supply chain in Pakistan when local Sindh authorities entered the facility and commenced culling of sheep under an order issued by the Sindh High Court.

Both the importer and Wellard representatives were ordered by local authorities to leave the facility during that time.

DAFF says it will conduct a full investigation of the ESCAS non-compliance and continue to provide further information as it becomes available.

Piggery under investigation for animal cruelty

Shocking footage allegedly taken at a piggery outside Canberra, showing cruel and inhumane treatment of the animals there, has been released by activists.

Animal Liberation apparently raided the piggery on Friday night, where they recorded images of buckets filled with dead piglets and workers beating the sows while they were alive.

Fly infestations were also recorded in the footage, and Yass police has confirmed that a piggery near Murrumbateman is under investigation.

''This piggery is one of the worst examples of factory farming where animals are treated like 'production machines' and no thought is given to their capacity to suffer,” Animal Liberation NSW executive director Mark Pearson, told AAP.

''Images also included buckets of dead piglets, a sledgehammer used to bludgeon pigs, and sows with open sores.''

He said Animal Liberation NSW gathered and verified footage for two months before contacting authorities on Thursday.

Andrew Spencer, chief of industry lobby group Australian Pork Limited, also weighed in on the footage.

''The majority of pork producers in Australia rigorously adhere to world best practice when it comes to animal welfare,'' he said.

''There is no way that we can tolerate treating pigs like this.''

Earlier this year a number of other shocking abattoir conditions were unveiled, including one in NSW’s Hawkesbury region, an illegal operation in Victoria, which led to criminal charges, as well as a broiler farm that was found to be underfeeding chickens, causing them removed from the premises.

New laws, which will be introduced in NSW on 1 July next year, will ensure the humane treatment of animals in all Australian meatworks, by employing certified Animal Welfare Officers.

 

Private Label will damage our business: Four ‘N’ Twenty pie maker

The supermarket price wars have had many victims, and the latest to be impacted by the ruthless competition that is squeezing food companies out of business is iconic Aussie pie maker Four ‘N’ Twenty.

Yesterday the makers of Four ‘N’ Twenty pies, Patties Foods, which also manufactures Herbert Adams and Nanna’s brands, said the increase in private label will hurt its business, mostly likely beginning this year.

The pie maker predicts that in the second half of 2012, it will face much tougher trading conditions, as private label offering from Woolworths and Coles increase in numbers, pushing established brands off the shelves.

Both supermarkets have confirmed plans to rapidly increase private label products in the coming years, and as they do so, other manufacturers are seeing their products moved from prime positions on shelves, and disappearing altogether.

Very few manufacturers will speak on the record about the impact of the supermarket price wars, for fear their deletion from shelves will be speeded up if they do.

Even the Senate Inquiry investigating the power of the big two struggled to get people to speak, which is indicative of the power they wield over manufacturers and suppliers.

The few who will speak either speak out anonymously, or once they can no longer be punished, as was the case with the exiting chief executive of the Wine Federation Australia, Stephen Strachan, criticised the supermarkets’ power only when he had stepped down from the post.

''If you're an individual company that speaks out against them or says anything publicly that criticises their tactics, they would have no hesitation in giving you a holiday from their shelves and that is what's creating a culture of fear and compliance in the industry,'' Strachan said.

''Whenever I've made comments in the press, I could only talk about retailers in a generic sense, but they [Coles and Woolworths] would religiously follow up on those comments and make it known they were displeased.”

The recent Food Magazine Leaders Summit also came up against the same issues.

We invited food manufacturers and other food companies to participate in the day, aimed to identify the main issues in the industry and work towards improvement, but when it became known that the impact of the supermarket dominance would be discussed on the day, dozens refused to come, for fear of the retributions of being associated with anything discussing such issues.

Despite the pressure from the supermarkets, Patties has managed to continue to grow, mainly due to other more traditional pie outlets.

The company expects the 2012 financial year will deliver a net profit of between $19.2 million and $19.7 million, up from $18.4 in 2011.

Second-half net profit will almost definitely remain the same as the same period last year, however, showing the beginning of a decline in profits.

When Patties Foods released its 2012 first-half results it expected that, despite the difficult conditions, it was still expecting improved profits for the second half.

"The second half saw increasing pressure on margins in the In Home (supermarket) channel, particularly with the continued growth of private label products,” Patties said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).

Managing director Greg Bourke said the company has been working hard on driving strong sales growth, and has increased manufacturing efficiencies maintained tight control over costs to achieve its results.