A Victorian Government plan to conduct an independent review of poultry welfare science has received mixed reactions from key stakeholders.
While the RSPCA has applauded the move, debate has spilled over the border with the NSW Farmers Association accusing the Victorian Government of jeopardising the creation of national standards and guidelines for the poultry industry.
RSPCA Australia chief executive officer Heather Neil said it was a positive step from the government but remained concerned a scientific review to underpin the national standards had not been confirmed.
‘‘The decision by the Victorian Government to commission its own review suggests it shares our concerns about the lack of scientific evidence to support the current draft standards,’’ she said.
‘‘This decision further validates the RSPCA’s concerns, and it’s clear there are now serious questions hanging over the scientific integrity of these draft standards and the development process.’’
A government spokesperson said Victoria was supportive of a national process, and the review would support evidence-based animal welfare positions.
‘‘To ensure we have good advice to support our participation in the national process we will conduct a short desktop review of the published science,’’ the spokesperson said.
‘‘Victoria will ensure its contribution to this important process is informed by the views of industry, the community and animal welfare groups.’’
The NSW Farmers Association said the Victorian Government was putting the current process to establish national guidelines ‘‘at risk’’.
Egg committee chair Bede Burke said the move had further delayed the process.
‘‘Announcing the commission of additional research outside of the advice requested by the key stakeholder advisory group at this stage puts the whole process at risk,’’ Mr Burke said.
‘‘Public consultation on the standards and guidelines was expected for April 2017 and has now been pushed back to mid-2017 — this move by the Victorian Government will delay this even further, if not frustrate it completely.’’
Mr Burke said it was essential that governments worked together on the guidelines.
‘‘It is important that everyone works through the collaborative process that is well under way, so that the poultry industry has certainty about the standards and guidelines we will need to meet.’’