By Sue Brunskill, Teacher, National Environment Centre, and Wooragee resident
People choose to eat meat or not to eat meat for many reasons, and the more you delve into the issue, the less it appears clear cut. Fashions come and go in food and health as well as other areas. The environmental reasons aren’t as clear cut as people might think and a good article to read is by George Monbiot. “I was wrong about veganism. Let them eat meat – but farm it properly” http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/sep/06/meat-production-veganism-deforestation
However if you do decide to eat meat there is one area that not many people would disagree about and that is animal welfare.
As a landholder we have access to meat that has been bred, raised and killed on our farm. The animals have had a pretty good life up until the last 5 minutes. For our own consumption we have a mobile butcher to come to our place and the sheep and the wastes never leave the property.
However currently animals have to be killed in an abattoir if the meat is to be sold. So if we want to sell the meat, our animals have to get put in a trailer and go to Wangaratta to the abattoirs, or if its chickens to Melbourne in the absence of small animal abattoir in the area.
I understand the need for control of potential diseases – we always ask the butcher what is the internal health of our sheep like.
With the growing interest in local produce, animal welfare, and food security it would seem this legislation needs reviewing. Surely some mobile butchers could undergo training and have a requirement to notify authorities if they see certain conditions or disease; surely farmers could have cool rooms, or there could be a local cool room in an area – an addition to a business maybe. This would allow people to truly buy from where they know the landholder and the property, and the conditions in which the animals were raised, and killed.
There are a lot of people on small farms who would like to get some of their income from the meat they raise, and many people interested in buying this produce, but the effort and cost and thought about their animals in the current system make it difficult.
If you think this is an issue worth investigating then write to your local member.