Farming and food choices are intimately connected and so are the corresponding Animal Justice Party (AJP) policies. We advocate a plant based diet but recognise that animal industries are not all the same.
We recognise that some animal industries inflict less pain than others however all involve significant suffering and ultimately the taking of life. The AJP understands that widespread dietary change will be a lengthy process and that animal production methods must be improved urgently as an interim measure; so we will prioritise the phase out of factory farming.
It is the aim of our dietary policy to provide programs that inspire people to change. Changes in diets will prompt changes in what and how we farm. Some farmers will have to change their production methods and others will shift from producing animals to producing plant foods. We expect a significant drop in the number of farm animals, an increase in new plant-based industries, and an improvement in human health.
However, whilst the Animal Justice Party will advocate for incomplete reform when the immediate suffering of animals is involved, it will always recognise that such reforms are not enough in isolation and must occur in tandem with a long-term, total transition to plant-based agriculture.
Farming affects not only the animals that are raised and killed but has a major impact on wildlife habitat. Of the 100 million hectares that has been cleared since white arrival, at least 70 percent has been for grazing. Sheep and cattle graze over 400 million hectares of Australia, while we crop just 27 million hectares; almost all of this is for cereal production. Our towns and cities occupy just over 3 million hectares.
Typically, the majority of our cereal crop is exported, with only 2 million tonnes consumed here as food (for people). In contrast, we feed over 13 million tonnes of grains (not just cereals) to our livestock. Cattle alone consume about 6.5 million tonnes of grains split fairly evenly between our dairy and beef industries. We also import some 700,000 tonnes of soymeal for feed annually. Cattle have a very large environmental footprint while providing relatively little food; and all of it is carcinogenic. Wheat supplies not only more protein, but five times more calories in the Australian food supply.
Most of the water taken from our rivers is for the production of meat and dairy products. At the height of the millenium drought, our dairy industry was crippling the Murray Darling Basin while Sydney and Adelaide were building billion dollar desalination plants. Adelaide spent 83 billion building a plant to guarantee 100 billion litres annually, while upstream the dairy industry was using 4,200 billion litres.
In cities, it is easy to underestimate the impacts of food choices not just on the animals who are killed, but on the environment that is exploited to feed the massive appetites of our factory farms and feedlots, or the land that is cleared, or kept cleared, for the grazing component of production.
Two thirds of the meat eaten in Australia each year comes from factory farms where animals are raised in sheds. Australians eat more chicken meat than any other meat and it is virtually all produced in factory farms.
By the end of their 6 weeks of life, only a few percent of chickens can walk normally. They have been bred for rapid growth and their skeletal development can’t keep up with the growth of their musculature. The result is an animal that won’t live long if released. This contrasts with a lifespan of a decade or more for the original chickens before artificial breeding produced the current animals. Modern chickens are so genetically unfit that getting them to live long enough to breed requires extraordinary procedures, typically reducing their feed intake to retard their unnatural growth rates.
Most pig meat comes from pigs raised indoors, but there has been an expansion of large portable shelters for pig production. Those kept on concrete floors have similar lameness problems to chickens, but for different reasons.
Your impact on animals and the environment is almost entirely determined by what you choose to eat. The AJP is the only political party that understands this.