Community sentiment regarding live exports has strengthened slightly over the past two years, according to the findings of the latest survey carried out to help the industry understand the best ways to build trust.
It is the second in a series of surveys commissioned collaboratively by the livestock export and red meat production research bodies, LiveCorp and Meat & Livestock Australia.
The latest survey provides an opportunity to compare results between 2019 and now, as well as to delve deeper into some of the initial findings.
Voconiq CEO Kieren Moffat, who conducted the research, says live exports are often considered through a single lens, and this work aims to broaden the discussion.
“There is even stronger recognition than in the 2019 survey of the benefit of live exports to people living overseas; improving diet and nutrition, supporting food security by providing breeding stock, and exporting know-how and technology along with livestock,” Dr Moffat said.
“More Australians also understand the economic benefit of the trade to the domestic economy, and that farming communities would suffer without it.
“When asked if the industry should stop exporting animals regardless of the impact on Australian farmers, slightly more respondents disagreed than agreed. Weighing up the costs and benefits of the industry, this value proposition has strengthened slightly over the past two years.”
However, Dr Moffat says animal welfare is still very important, and what happens on live export ships, and once animals arrive overseas, are the primary areas of concern to the community.
“Having said that, Australians agree that animal welfare is a complex issue, and general sentiment regarding the industry’s treatment of animals has improved.
“This research helps the live export industry tease apart the community’s views and identify ways to have a constructive conversation about the complex environment in which it operates.”
LiveCorp CEO Wayne Collier says it is pleasing to see many of the measures move in a positive direction for the industry.
“We’ve been working hard over the past two years to increase the amount of information available about the industry, after the first survey highlighted a lot of uncertainty among Australians about live exports,” Mr Collier said.
“There’s still work to be done, however, as it’s clear from the latest survey that many people still don’t know what happens once the animals leave Australia in particular, and that contributes to their concern.
“We’re encouraging people who work in all parts of the industry to speak up about what they do, and why, to help dispel myths and create greater understanding.
“This is even more important, as a new measure in this survey shows that Australians are more positive about live exports if they know people who work in rural industries.
“Findings like these highlight the guidance being provided by this project, helping industry to target investment in research and extension and engage in conversations with the community on the areas of most importance to them.”
The Voconiq report Live exports and the Australian community 2019-2021 can be found here.
The first survey was conducted in 2019, with the report released in 2020. The second survey went into the field in September, October and November 2021.
Survey responses were collected via an online research panel of Australians over the age of 18, matched to Australian Bureau of Statistics population data by age, education and gender. Analysis was conducted on 4,830 responses in 2019 and 4,411 in 2021.