NSW Nationals Minister for Agriculture and Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has slammed an attempt by the Animal Justice Party to ban mulesing in the sheep industry, firmly backing farmers to make the best decisions for the welfare of their livestock.

Mr Marshall warned that a bill, introduced by AJP, would prohibit mulesing as soon as 2023 and would lump the state’s producers with unnecessary red tape and financial ruin.

“I am fiercely opposed to this bill and so are the NSW Nationals in the state government,” Mr Marshall said.

“I won’t stand by and let Sydney-based ideologues with no knowledge of industry dictate to farmers; they know best practice and are the most passionate about the welfare of their own livestock.

“Rather than relying on needless government regulation, the wool industry is already addressing this challenge head-on with the full support of the government.

“The irony of this bill being introduced by AJP is that mulesing is essential for good animal welfare outcomes in the sheep industry – have they ever seen or had to deal with flyblown sheep?”

Flystrike is a horrible affliction caused by the sheep blowfly that results in painful wounds and often death. Mulesing has long been considered one of the best ways to prevent flystrike. The Australian wool and sheepmeat industries face lost production costs in excess of $200 million per year from flystrike.

Mr Marshall encouraged producers to make their voices heard, with the deadline for online submissions to a Parliamentary Inquiry considering the bill due to close on Friday.

“I believe farmers have the right to make their own decisions what’s best for the welfare of their livestock and their individual businesses,” Mr Marshall said.

“To all sheep farmers across the state, I say this: If you want to maintain mulesing as a genuine animal welfare strategy which protects sheep from flystrike, then please be vocal about it.

“This dangerous bill has the potential to go so much further than just the wool industry, it could affect all farm animal husbandry.”

Mr Marshall said the NSW Nationals in the state government would continue its commitment to work with industry to promote the best in animal health and welfare to prevent flystrike.

“Many producers are already using anaesthetic analgesic or other alternatives to mulesing in response to market demand and premium prices,” Mr Marshall said.

“Further, significant progress has already been made to manage the risk of flystrike in sheep and increasingly less flocks require mulesing as a result of targeted breeding.

“This gives me great confidence that the industry is already on the right track for reducing the incidence of flystrike over the longer term without the need for government intervention.”

Farmers can have their say online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/J3DYNYT before the survey closes on Friday, July 31.