NSW Farmers has questioned the need for a meat-free week campaign aimed at encouraging people to stop eating meat this week.
Fiona Simson, the president of the association which represents thousands of grassroots farmers across the state, said farmers were already meeting stringent national welfare standards and that farmers also recognised that safe food meant healthy and happy animals.
Ms Simson said campaigns like the one organised by animal activist group Voiceless might seem like a good way to raise its profile but they unfortunately failed to think about the people who they were affecting the most.
She said there were 44,000 farming families in NSW whose livelihoods depended upon consumers eating the produce they worked hard to grow and this campaign lacked compassion for farmers – many of whom had recently experienced multiple natural disasters, from bushfires to floods.
Ms Simson said farmers were committed to high animal welfare standards and many had been extremely distressed witnessing the deaths of their own livestock during recent natural disasters.
“I find the timing of such a campaign ill thought out and I encourage consumers to ignore the pleas of such groups and get behind our farmers who work extremely hard every day at growing the best for us to eat,” Ms Simson said.
“Animals in Australia are raised in extremely good conditions. Some 97 per cent of NSW beef cattle are grass fed and live outdoors and Australia’s pork farmers were the first in the world to voluntarily agree to phase out sow stalls by 2017.
“I know many consumers, including people living in metropolitan centres throughout NSW, support our farmers and enjoy our produce.
“So I urge you all not to change your habits and not to make it a meat-free week this week at all.”