Livestock exports play an important role for many Australian businesses and livestock farmers, and service a range of needs within overseas markets including access to better nutrition. However, animal welfare remains a key element of the national discussion about the industry.
A series of comprehensive national surveys began in 2019, to provide guidance on how to deepen the relationship between the Australian community and the livestock export industry. This report details the findings of the third survey, with comparison between surveys conducted in 2019-20 and 2021. These show growing acceptance of the industry and its animal welfare standards.
This project is being conducted through the Livestock Export RD&E Program, a collaboration between LiveCorp and Meat & Livestock.
This project aims to use Voconiq’s social insights framework to survey more than 4,000 Australians each year, to assess community sentiment toward the livestock export industry.
When asked whether live exports should be stopped regardless of the impact on farmers, 29% of participants agreed in 2023, while 42% disagreed (increasing from 37% in 2019).
In 2023, 64% of participants agreed the industry supports the diet and nutrition to people overseas (increasing substantially from 55% in 2019).
Agreement that “conditions for animals on live export ships are not in line with Australian animal welfare standards” decreased by 14.7%, from 53.7% in 2019 to 39% in 2023.
On the question “the live export industry is prepared to change its practices in response to community concerns”, 37% agreed in 2023 compared to 24% who disagreed.
Around three-quarters of respondents believed the benefits of live export outweighed, or were equal to, the costs of the industry. (36% said benefits outweighed costs; 38% said costs and benefits were about equal; 26% said costs outweighed benefits)
In the 2023 survey, six questions asked about livestock export generally were also adapted to examine attitudes toward the export of sheep, specifically. The results showed that there was no significant difference in the two sets of answers.
This project helps to ensure politicians, livestock exporters and others have a factual basis for understanding what the community thinks about livestock exports, based on a representative survey of Australians.
It also highlights the key issues of concern, providing guidance for industry management practices, research efforts and communication strategies.