The Australian animal welfare strategy: sustaining food production drivers within broader societal agendas
The Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS) was accepted in 2004 by the Primary Industry Ministerial Council, with implementation commencing in 2005 (Product Integrity Unit, 2005). The Strategy covers all aspects of animal welfare in Australia livestock and production animals; animals in the wild; companion animals; animals in research and teaching; aquatic animals; and animals used in work, sport, recreation or on display. While considerable effort by professional and industry advocates was undertaken in the lead up to the acceptance of the AAWS, political drivers were strongly linked to primarily international public criticism of Australias treatment of livestock and production animals and hence threats to Australias international trade. These economic drivers are reflected in the positioning of responsibility for the implementation of the Strategy within the national primary industry department (Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry, Australia). The AAWS offers an interesting contrast to the initiatives in Europe. The AAWS is very broad in its scope. Embedding animal welfare concerns across a wide societal framework offers potential for sustainable impacts in the area of food production, perhaps more than just focusing on animal welfare in food production in isolation of animals in society more generally. However, the strategies undertaken have a presumed vision of what constitutes animal welfare goals, perpetuated within professional and government networks. The challenge is to sustain an appropriate and encompassing animal welfare agenda, when the impetus is primarily driven from one sector, primary industry, and in the absence of a strong (domestic) public positioning of the issues.