Episode 2: Why do you do what you do?
Tegan talks about the role of cattle in carbon sequestration. You can read more in an article from Oklahoma State University Division of Agricultural Sciences and National Resources titled 'Carbon sequestration a positive aspect of beef grazing grasslands'. There's also a video produced by Food Climate Research Network called 'Grazed and Confused? How much can grazing livestock help to mitigate climate change?' Or read their report of the same title. Peer-review research is currently being conducted in Australian on holistic grazing practices. You can read an article published in the Land newspaper by John Chanter titled 'Animals and environment thrive in holistic farm cycle at Tarabah Pastoral' to learn more.
TK talks about sows stalls in the Australian pig industry. Sow stalls were voluntarily phased out by 2017 in Australia by the industry. You can read more sow stalls, pig housing and the pork industry in Australia at the Australian Pork website.
TK talks about how the Australian pork industry spends millions on research every year and challenges animal rights organisations to do the same. Meat and Livestock Australia invested $92.9 million in research and development projects in 2014-15. You can learn more about these projects on their website. Australian Pork Limited invested $10.5 million in research and development project in 2017-18 as detailed in their Annual Report. According to the Animals Australia Annual Report found on their website they do not invest any funds into research and development. RSPCA does commission research, and employs a Chief Scientist. RSPCA works with farming industries to develop animal welfare standards. You can learn more by accessing their knowledgebase.
TK talks about the survivability of pigs in the environment and mentions pigs are susceptible to both heat and cold stress. It is therefore important that their housing should aim to provide a constant temperature all year around for pig comfort. You can learn more on the Agriculture Victoria 'Transport and Care of Pigs' Factsheet.
Episode 3: What are the flow on effects of the choices we make?
Kel says that Australia is one of the fourth biggest meat eaters in the world. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum Australia has the highest per capita of meat consumption in the world surpassing the United States in 2013.
Kel talks about noticing meat or dairy in nearly every product when she started to look around and observe. The Telegraph in the UK wrote an article earlier in the year that looked at this titled '10 surprising food and drink products that aren't suitable for vegans'.
Kel says there are "some 900 billion animals killed for food each year". You can find the Australian monthly figures for livestock slaughtered at the Australian Bureau of Statistics website.
Kel talks about her pet pig. Ever thought about keeping pigs as a pet? The RSPCA has a fact sheet on their knowledgebase called 'Can pig be kept as pets?' that will answer all your questions!
Tegan and Kel talk about what would happen if the entire global population went vegan, and then what would become of our domestic animal population. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America wrote an article in 2017 titled 'Nutritional and greenhouse impacts of removing animals from US agriculture' which notes that removing animals from US agriculture would reduce agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but would create a food supply incapable of support the US population's nutritional requirements. A study by Roy Morgan published in 2016 has found that over 10% of Australians have a diet which is all or almost all vegetarian. You can read more about this study through their press release.
Tegan references the Yellowstone National Park study where they reintroduced wolves into the ecosystem. You can read more on this study in an article by USA Today titled 'Yellowstone's wolves are back, but they haven't restored the park's ecosystem. Here's why.'
Nicole asks Tegan about live export, the impact on the industry and her reaction to footage made public in 2011 as a grazier who exports cattle. Live export is a topic of much discussion in Australia over recent years, and there are many articles and reports for further reference. The ABC published a news article in September looking at the impact on Australia without live export titled 'What would Australia look like without live exports?'. James Nason wrote opinion piece for Beef Central in November titled 'Live Export: the greatest drought strategy Australia has' as an argument for live export. Peter Singer, a Professor of Ethical Issues in Biotechnology, Justice and the Human Good at the University of Melbourne, wrote an opinion piece for The Conversation titled 'The live export trade is unethical. It puts money ahead of animals' pain' as an argument against live export. The Federal Government's Department of Agriculture and Water Resources report on the mortality rates from live export which can be found in a table along with actions taken by the Department. Behind the News (BTN), an ABC show for upper primary and lower secondary students to learn about the news, covered live export in one of their episodes called 'Live Export Debate' which aired on 29 May 2018. The RSPCA has an infographic on Meat Exports vs Live Exports. The National Farmers' Federation, Sheep Producers Australia and WAFarmers have created a website that shares the facts of Australia's Live Export industry called 'LiveExport: Get the Facts'. Siobhan O'Sullivan, a Research Fellow at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne, wrote an opinion piece for The Conversation titled 'Assessing Australia's regulation of live animal export' to look at the role of Animals Australia and the RSPCA in regulating animal welfare standards.
Episode 4: We're all in the same boat when it comes to the environment
Tegan talks about the role of grazing herbivores in the methane carbon cycle. You can learn more about this cycle in an article from Iowa State University titled '1-5: Carbon Cycle, Methane'. Meat and Livestock Australia explain grazing management and different grazing strategies in an article titled 'Grazing Strategies'. For more on carbon sequestering refer to the Fact Check for Episode 2 (01:30). But what causes climate change? The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change's mitigation report provides an overview of the state of knowledge concerning climate change. There is a new report on Climate Change and Land due to be released in 2019. Agriculture has it’s part to play but so does everyone, with the report noting that buildings emissions are also high.
Tegan mentions a TED Talk by Allan Savory called 'How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change' which puts into perspective that nature is a perfect feedback loop. Allan is considered the father of holistic grazing and provides an overview on why graziers like Tegan implement the methods they do to ensure environmental sustainability for future generations. Tegan also talks about the variety of farming practices from holistic grazing and grass fed beef to more intensive operations. There is room for a variety of different systems, and these different systems are needed to support different markets and to ensure beef continues to be accessible for consumers. Leah Dowling and Louise Dunn, both of Swinburn University of Technology, wrote an opinion piece for the Conversation titled 'Organic, grass fed and hormone-free: does this make red meat any healthier?'. A group of scientists from the University of NSW looked at 'Red Meat Production in Australia: Life Cycle Assessment and Comparison with Overseas Studies'. Amongst their findings it was also noted that beef feedlots were environmentally friendly because they have lower greenhouse gas emissions. A group of Health Scientists and Nutritionists from the University of Washington examined the relationship between energy and nutrient content of foods and their associated greenhouse gas emissions. Their findings are presented in an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition titled 'Energy and nutrient density of foods in relation to their carbon footprint'.
TK talks about the environment plans he writes for his piggery and their Quality Assurance program. TK notes that this is an increasing requirement and is also a legal requirement for many farmers, particularly pork producers. A Farm Environment Plan (EFP) is a plan that focuses on the management of farm environmental assets such as water, soil and vegetation. Agriculture Victoria has a environmental planning program called Environmental Best Management Practice that helps farmers build more sustainable businesses and meet reporting requirements. Meat and Livestock Australia invests $5.7 million dollars annually in environment and sustainability research and development. You can learn more about their investment, research projects, Fact Sheets for farmers, and case studies on their website. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority recognises and supports the work of farmers who are doing great work to manage natural resources through effective land management. You can learn more on their website. Farmers for Climate Action is a movement drive by farmers, for farmers, calling for action on climate change. Climate Wise Agriculture was started by a board member of Farmers for Climate Action, Anika Molesworth, as a forum for understanding and information about climate change and its impact on agriculture.
Coming back to pigs, the Australian Pork Industry has a Quality Assurance Program called APIQ or the Australian Pork Industry Quality Assurance Program. You can learn more about APIQ via their Fact Sheet (featuring a photo of TK and his family) or their video (which also features TK). The video notes that in 2017 more than 90% of all sows in production were APIQ certified in Australia.
Further information on regulation of the entire Australian agricultural industry is provided in a report by the Australian Government's Productivity Commission in November 2016 titled 'Regulation of Australian Agriculture'.
TK talks about covering dams to reduce methane emissions and the capturing of methane to generate heat and power. Last month, ABC Journalist Meagan Roooth wrote an article titled 'Farm Dams 'hotspots for greenhouse gases, but so are traffic jams' which looks at research done by Deakin University and spread of farm dams across Australia. To learn more about the management of effluent and pig manure within the Australian Pork Industry a report was released in 2015. There are lots of innovative solutions to waste management and reducing methane emissions from generating heat and power as TK talks about, to feeding food waste to insects as Goterra does to provide alternative livestock feed sources. A dairy farm in the Central West of NSW will utilise the manure from their dairy cows to create all their power through a biodigester as told to Cole Latimer at the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year. As reported by the ABC in March 2014, an Australian company is powering 3,000 homes in Utah, US using methane from swine effluent.
TK talks about the installation of solar panels on his piggery which eliminates the need for power usage from the grid on sunny days. The Clean Energy Council compiled a comprehensive article in September that lists the different ways Australian farmers are making the move to renewable energy with case studies and examples.
Tegan and Kel further discuss environmental management plans. Just like Kel has an Environmental Management Plan for her business, they are not reserved for land managers, everyone can write one! The Australian Government's Department of Environment and Energy has some guidelines and information available to assist. You may also find it interesting to read the United State's Environmental Protection Agency's Guide to Developing an Environmental Management System Plan.
Episode 5: How do we sort fact from opinion to reach your conclusions?
Tegan talks about whether being vegan is the best way to reduce your carbon footprint. You can read about ways in which you can personally reduce your own carbon footprint in an article written for the Huffington Post called 'How to Reduce your Carbon Footprint in one Simple Graph'. In a further article titled 'The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions', Seth Wynes of Lund University Sweden, and Kimberley Nicholas of the Unversity of British Columbia, explore lifestyle choices and their ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We acknowledged in our Fact Check for Episode 4 that agriculture contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and as an industry there are ways for reducing and capturing emissions. Fiona Simson, President of the National Farmers Federation, last week penned an opinion piece titled 'Red meat can't be our climate scapegoat' which looks at why cutting meat and dairy production is not the answer to solving our climate change woes.
Tegan talks about differing fact from fiction when looking at how much water it takes to produce 100g of beef. ABC Education published an episode called 'Water Footprints in Food Manufacturing' in 2009 targeted at Year 10 High School students. This episode shows why claims of 100,000L/kg do not relate to the Australian beef industry, and quotes a range of 18 to 540L/kg. A report commissioned by the Compassion in World Farming titled 'The water footprint of poultry, pork and beef: A comparative study in different countries and production systems' notes 5,000 to 25,000L/kg in US, China, Netherlands and Brazil, but acknowledges that it differs greatly depending on which production system is used. In February, James Nason wrote an article for Beef Central titled 'Does it really take 20,000L of water to produce 1kg of beef?'.
Kel talks about growing populations reducing arable farming land and says "75% of liveable land is farming land". According to the World Bank agricultural land makes up 37.5% of land area on the planet. The FOA further notes that at present 11% of the planet's land area is used in crop production, which represents slightly over a third of the land estimated to be suitable for crop production. The gap illustrates there is scope for the future expansion of agricultural land.
Kel mentions growing global populations will soon reach 9 billion people. The United Nations' World Populations Projections report in 2015 predicts that our global population will reach 9.7 billion people by 2050.
The overconsumption of meat has also been mentioned by Kel in this episode and past episodes. Matthew Evans, from the SBS show For the Love of Meat, explored this topic in an article called 'Do we eat too much meat?'. The OECD looks at global meat consumption, with Australian beef and veal consumption currently at 20.9kg per capita. To look at the health benefits of meat, the World Health Organisation has a helpful Q & A available on their website, and Kris Gunners a Nutrition Researcher, wrote an article for Health Online titled 'Is Red Meat Bad for You, or Good? An Objective Look'. And what about pork fat? Well, the BBC reported in January the 1,000 most nutritious foods as ranked by scientists and pork fat comes in at Number 8! The other top 10 include (in order) almonds, custard apples, ocean perch, flat fish, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, silverbeet, beet greens (the leaves of beetroot), and snapper.
In Nicole's wrap up she mentions environmental stewardship, confirmation bias, and encouraging further engagement. As Tegan and TK discussed there are many benefits to Landcare; environmental, social and economical. The Australian Government's National Landcare Program produced a report in 2015 titled 'Evidence for the economic impacts of investment in the National Landcare Program activities' which details more of these benefits.
We understand the need to acknowledge our own confirmation bias in producing and publishing these podcasts. That's why we've invested time and effort into pulling together these Fact Checks for our listeners to seek further information on topics discussed and explore the multiple views presented. If you'd like to learn more about confirmation bias itself, Raymond S. Nickerson of Tufts University wrote a chapter in the Review of General Psychology called 'Confirmation Bias: A Ubiquitous Phenomenon in Many Guises'. We also want to acknowledge the role social media and its algorithms play in aiding our confirmation bias. You can learn more in an article written for the Conversation citing research being undertaken in the United States titled 'Misinformation and biases infect social media, both intentionally and accidentally'. Some of our favourite Facebook pages that deliver science-based discussions in agriculture are Know Ideas Media and Food and Farm Discussion Lab Forum (Public Group). One of our favourite Facebook pages bringing the vegetarian/vegan and farming communities together to have discussions is Where Aussie Farmers and Vegans Connect. This is a closed group, so please contact us if you are interested in joining.
Episode 6: A few more questions
In a final discussion between TK and Kel they discuss pig housing, alternative farming methods and the ability for consumers to pay more for their produce. If this podcast has left you curious and you want to know more about the Australian Pork Industry you can find more information on the AgriFutures Australia website including some interesting pork facts. If you'd like to know more about how pork is processed in Australia, Australian Pork has a section on their Aussie Pig Farmers website that explains the process. As TK mentioned there are producers who are trying new approaches to farming and processing pigs. One of these is Alexandra Hicks of Central West NSW. You can learn more about Alex's farm and mobile abattoir in the ABC report earlier this week titled 'Pig farmer's Extraordinary Pork takes control of processing with mobile abattoir'.
Kel raises a question about whether consumers increasing the price point they are willing to pay for animal products in relation to welfare standards would in turn increase the prevalence of free range farming systems. Earlier in the year, a Professor at the University of Sydney in Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare Science, together with a PhD student, wrote an article for the Conversation titled 'Australians care about animals - but we don't buy ethical meat' that notes consumers are willing to do the "right" thing until asked to put their money where their mouth is. The Australian Farm Institute had similar findings in 2015 and wrote 'Consumers say they want better animal welfare, but they won't pay'.
TK makes references to a video taken in a piggery at night, which is 'Australian sow stalls at Westmill Products "Lansdown" Piggery NSW, 2013' by Aussie Farms. A response was made by the Australian Pork Industry in 'Aussie Pig Farmers; Nothing to Hide'. Please note that these videos were produced in 2013. Dry sow stalls are now gone from the Australian Pork Industry after they were voluntarily phased out in 2017, and no ear notching occurs now. As the RSPCA notes in their media release in 2015, the Australian Pork Industry is always happy to work with the RSPCA to adapt.
TK imagines a future with increased consumer engagement where supermarket shoppers can scan a barcode on his products and be taken to live streamed footage of what is occurring at his piggery. There is a lot being done to improve the traceability of our food from increased engagement with consumers, to block chain and other global food trends. The Business Insider explores blockchain in an article titled 'Here's how blockchain can return confidence to Australia's food industry'. Deloittes explore trust and transparency in a blog post titled 'In food we trust - the case for radical transparency', and the Australian Food News reveals the top five global food and drink trends for 2018 which includes full product transparency as Number 1.