Concern for farm sector over Tasmanian Quality Meats potential licence suspension

12 December 2023

Tasmania's peak advocacy body for farmers is deeply concerned about the implications for the Tasmanian farming sector of a potential cancellation of Tasmanian Quality Meats (TQM) export licence over animal welfare concerns.

We have recently been made aware of apparently illegally obtained footage from an animal welfare group, purportedly revealing distressing scenes within the TQM abattoir located outside of Cressy, in Northern Tasmania.

We are also aware that the Federal Agricultural Department wrote to TQM last Friday giving them just seven days to show cause as to why their export licence should not be suspended for 12 months.

President of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, Ian Sauer, said that Tasmanian Farmers take the welfare of animals very seriously and do not condone any form of cruelty or mistreatment of livestock. Such actions are utterly unacceptable to TFGA.

Mr Sauer said, “Our understanding is that both Commonwealth and State government agencies are investigating the matter, which we think is appropriate and support.

“TFGA is now working with TQM, who have given us firm assurances that processes are in place to prevent any future breaches of animal welfare.

“TFGA believes this demonstrates goodwill on behalf of TQM and their willingness to adhere to best practice.”

Mr Sauer confirmed that the TFGA has written to the Federal Department outlining their concerns about the broader flow-on effect of any licence suspension.

“It is important to recognize that TQM is a major employer in rural Tasmania with 180 staff employed in the business”, Mr Sauer said.

"Any closure or restriction in processing would have a tremendous impact on the local rural community, especially if there is a loss of employment over the Christmas period.

“The economic consequences for workers, truck drivers, farmers, and local businesses due to potential disruptions are massive.

“In addition, TQM is the only export accredited processor in Tasmania of mainly sheep, lambs and surplus calves.

“Tasmania already has a limited capacity to process sheep, which has been exacerbated by the drought conditions in the south of the state.

“If TQM was forced to close as the draft decision proposes, Tasmanian livestock producers of sheep and lamb would have nowhere within Tasmania to have their stock processed.

“Many farmers will have no choice but to euthanise their animals on farm. This loss of income will cripple Tasmanian farmers, who are already struggling with high interest rates, low livestock prices and the current dry season.

“In short, it would be an unmitigated disaster for Tasmania’s agricultural sector”, Mr Sauer concluded..