NSW Farmers have responded to a bill introduced by the Animal Justice Party (AJP) to State Parliament late last year, saying they will resist efforts to ban mulesing and mandate pain relief for other routine animal husbandry procedures.
NSW Farmers' President James Jackson said the push to ban mulesing is counter to achieving positive animal welfare outcomes.
"Mulesing is an effective fly-strike mitigation tool, so it needs to be maintained for the sake of animal welfare," Mr Jackson said.
"Banning mulesing would expose millions of sheep to the risk of flystrike, which is a substantially worse welfare outcome."
He said with wool grown in many different climatic conditions across NSW, no one flystrike mitigation approach can be uniformly applied.
And for many producers in NSW, mulesing is a key mitigation measure.
But according to AJP MP Mark Pearson, who introduced the bill, mulesing will cost the Australian woolgrowing industry its future if it continues.
"In recent years we've seen increased public awareness of the horrors of mulesing, and consumers are now demanding non-mulesed wool as a result," Mr Pearson said.
"People won't buy products associated with a bleeding, gaping wound - and rightly so."
His statements follow the release of a new industry report , 'Towards a Non-Mulesed Future', by socioeconomic consulting firm BG Economic.
The report collated data from a survey of 97 Australian woolgrowers in different states, climate zones and rainfall areas.
The report found close to 92 per cent of the surveyed woolgrowers believe animal welfare is improved through not mulesing, with 98pc also saying ceasing mulesing is important to their farm's future profitability.
Close to 88pc of farmers stated they received a price premium for their unmulesed wool, with 84pc experiencing an increased return on investment.
"Moving away from mulesing makes ethical and economic sense. This report has proven that from the perspective of the farmers who have already done it," said Mr Pearson.
"If the woolgrowing industry can't move away from mulesing, the viability of the industry in Australia needs to be questioned.
"The suffering we cause sheep in Australia, simply because we force them to exist in conditions intolerable to them, purely for human financial gain, is unconscionable."
But Mr Jackson said there is a real danger that banning mulesing could lead to increased dependency on trade sensitive chemical treatments.
"Greater use of these chemicals also creates the risk of flies becoming more quickly resistant to insecticides, which would lead to sub-optimal fly strike mitigation," Mr Jackson said.
He enforced NSW Farmers supported the mandatory use of pain relief during mulesing through an industry led-initiative, however they didn't support mandating pain-relief through government regulation.
Mr Jackson said that this bill is pushing for sweeping reforms that would impact on all livestock industries.
"The bill seeks to mandate pain relief for a range of routine husbandry procedures, including earmarking, ear-tagging, branding, castration, de-horning, and tail docking," Mr Jackson said.
"This would mean significant changes for all livestock industries and these reforms are better driven by industry.
"Increased industry uptake of pain relief is already occurring, as more products become available and as husbandry practices evolve.
"Farmers need to vocalise their opposition to this bill that seeks to create sweeping reforms."
NSW Farmers has outlined its position in a submission into the Upper House inquiry on the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Restrictions on Stock Animals Procedure) Bill 2019, and will be appearing before a hearing next Tuesday, August 11 to reiterate their key arguments.
NSW Farmers have also encouraged members to provide their own submission via the Parliamentary survey on the Bill.