Pork producers from all over Australia took up the opportunity to participate in a Town Hall Teleforum to discuss the industry's use of gestation stalls as part of the Shaping our Future initiative.
The Teleforum communication tool is cutting edge technology that is capable of involving thousands of people, simultaneously, in a live and interactive meeting undertaken over the phone of each participant. It's a bit like radio talk back but by phone.
More than 1,400 producers were contacted by phone with 982 producers electing to take part in the Teleforum with industry leaders to discuss issues including the use of gestation stalls and consumer perceptions, pork imports, labelling, and labour.
Australian Pork Limited (APL) CEO Andrew Spencers said, “It was an excellent opportunity for our most important stakeholders – pork producers - to have their say on the challenges confronting our industry long and short term”.
“Feedback from producers, both from the Teleforum and the extensive round of industry meetings Australia wide, suggests that it is one of the most comprehensive consultation processes the industry has encountered”.
“The discussion covered many issues. In particular, if the industry was to voluntarily phase out gestation stalls, how would producers make the on-farm changes to their production systems in terms of changes to existing infrastructure; the need for more skilled labour and how these changes would be financed, particularly given the growing level of imports from countries which continue to use and have no plan to stop using gestation stalls. How will consumers know what they are buying, given the vagaries around labelling especially in supermarket deli cabinets? Consumers do not realise that over 80 per cent of ham and bacon consumed in Australia is actually processed from imported pork”.
Support from major retailers
Mr Spencer said, “That if the Australian industry chose to voluntarily move away from gestations stalls producers would be seeking assistance from major retailers to better support ham and bacon products raised from Australian pork. Realistically if producers are to remain competitive against subsidised imported products, which are still produced using gestation stalls, then some assistance would also be required from the Australian government, similar to what Ireland has done for its pork farmers, in making this transition”.
“Producers cannot do this on their own, it requires support, co-operation and involvement with all parties along the supply chain and government to ensure its success”.