The RSPCA says a new call by WA farmers to expand the live export industry is "blinkered and out of step" with community expectations.
WA Farmers Federation released its “wish list” of demands in the lead up to the State election earlier this week.
It included a demand to expand the live export trade from WA to ensure it remains viable.
“WA Farmers is committed to working with industry, government and other key stakeholders to ensure the future and expansion of the live export trade,” a statement said.
WA Farmers president Dale Park said the Federation would be writing to the major parties to seek meetings about their policies for the upcoming election and to discuss needs and wants of the State’s farmers.
“The incoming State Government needs to recognise the tough times farmers have experienced and currently face, so they must cast a vote which will assist them to product food and fibre to feed and finance this State,” Mr Park said.
RSPCA national president Lynne Bradshaw said the animal rights group would oppose any attempt to expand the industry.
“With the Australian community’s reaction to recent incidents of appalling cruelty associated with the live export trade, I cannot imagine what the Farmers Federation can be thinking,” Ms Bradshaw said.
“To call for even more Australian animals to be sent overseas where they risk inhumane treatment and a cruel death is heartless and insensitive and flies in the face of community concerns about this industry.
“We need to ensure high welfare standards at all points within the supply chain from when the animals leave the farm to the point of slaughter.”
Ms Bradshaw said the RSPCA remained concerned that it was difficult to impose Australian animal welfare standards on other countries, but they would work with farmers and other industry players to ensure the highest possible welfare standards while the trade continued.
She said it was clear the markets for Australian sheep and cattle meat were shifting slowly, meaning a transition away from live export would take some time.
She called on the Federation to support farmers who wanted to move into new markets.
“We know that many farmers have been upset by the recent incidents of cruelty to our animals in other countries and they want to move forward and explore new markets in frozen and chilled meat exports,” she said.
“Trying to hold onto a dying industry is just clinging to the past but, but to call for an increase in the industry shows just how out of the touch the WA Farmers Federation is with the WA community.”
By Phoebe Wearne, The West Australian