Thursday, 13 October 2022

Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, Senator Susan McDonald has warned the Federal Government to cut the “bull” and not the national cattle herd ahead of signing up to an international methane reduction agreement.

News that New Zealand’s Government was planning to tax farmers for the methane produced by their cattle has sparked fears among Australian producers that Federal Labor would follow suit.

Northern Australia’s beef industry is worth an estimated $6 billion and employs thousands of stockhands, truck drivers, feedlot workers, abattoir workers, butchers, fodder producers, veterinarians, and fencing contractors to name a few.

The Australian dairy industry contributes an estimated $4.7 billion annually to the national economy and also employs thousands of people.

Senator McDonald warned that any move against cattle and sheep herds would be met with fierce resistance, especially from Northern Australia’s $1.35 billion live cattle export sector which supplies much-needed beef to South East Asian countries.

“No one believes Labor when they say there are no plans to cut our national herds. Signing up to an international methane agreement is just the first step, it opens the door to future action,” she said.

“My phone has been ringing hot from Northern cattle producers terrified that Australia will follow New Zealand’s lead.

“The saddest part is that Labor has no idea how sustainable, responsible and advanced our beef industry is.

“The new generation of graziers is driving monumental change in how they manage animals, pastures, native vegetation, erosion and emissions.

“They should be encouraged by this Government to continue innovating, not threatened with penalties.”

Senator McDonald said attacks on methane emissions ignored the contributions made by herbivorous and ruminant feral animals.

Currently, there are an estimated: 400,000 feral horses; 2 million deer; 13.5 million pigs; 2.3 million goats; 1 million camels; 200 million rabbits; and 150,000 buffalo.

Kangaroos – of which Australia has an estimated 42.8 million – were also found by American scientists in 2015 to emit about 27% the amount of methane produced by cattle.

“To lay the blame for methane and nitrous oxide gases from urine solely on beef cattle and other commercial herds is just pure laziness. Any limitations placed on our meat and dairy producers will have disastrous impacts on farming families, small businesses and consumers who will pay more for meat and dairy,” she said.

“Labor must unequivocally rule out suggestions this international methane agreement is a Trojan horse for an attack on commercial grazing and associated industries.”