Livestock conference tackles tough questions
Monday, 8 July 2002
HOW do we feed and clothe ourselves without it costing our environment? How do we manage a good life for an animal that also means a good profit for the farmer?
These issues are at the heart of the 24th Australian Society of Animal Production (ASAP) conference, being held this week in Adelaide (July 7-11). The theme is "Finding the balance: profitability with responsibility".
The President of the ASAP is the Head of the Department of Animal Science at the University of Adelaideís Roseworthy Campus, Professor Phil Hynd.
He said the conference, at the Adelaide Festival Centre, was addressing many of the big issues that some of the more specialist societies and conferences don't deal with. One of those issues is sustainability. Professor Hynd said the cost of past and current agricultural practices was indisputable.
"The cost to the environment is evident not only in biophysical deterioration, such as the cancerous growth of soil salinity, acidity and erosion and declining water quality, but also in the deterioration of our rural communities," he said.
"As we enter the new millennium we must address the environmental costs of our current practices and an increasingly urbanised population that has lost its sense of ownership of its role in creating unsustainable agricultural practices."
Professor Hynd is joined by speakers from Australia and overseas examining related issues, such as trends and opportunities in global food production, optimising environments for animal production, food safety and consumer concerns, and animal impact on the environment. There will also be a comprehensive update of research on topics including genetics, nutrition, decision support systems and sustainable animal production on saline land.
Leading researchers will be joined by ABC broadcaster Robyn Williams, who will speak on science and food production, and gourmet chef Maggie Beer, who will discuss niche marketing for the gourmet food industry.
Conference Convenor and Senior Lecturer in Animal Science at Roseworthy Dr Dean Revell said the issue of balance was the all-important one.
"Our focus is on resolving the equation between good profits and good production methods," he said.
"Livestock systems need to be sustainable as well as profitable, but there are so many factors that are simply outside a producerís control.
"How we manage our production practices and our natural resources is crucial to environmental and economic survival," he said.
Dr Revell said the event had attracted a lot of interest and offered "an opportunity to highlight the significant contribution Australian research is making to this field".
"Here in South Australia we have the Livestock Systems Alliance (LSA), a research partnership between the University of Adelaide, Primary Industries and Resources SA, the South Australian Research and Development Institute and the Primary Industries Faculty of the Murray Institute of TAFE. The LSA represents the largest gathering of animal science researchers in Australia and it is through those partnerships of researchers and industry that we will find the answers we need for future agricultural best practice," he said.
The conference also involves the International Society for Animal Hygiene.
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