National Farmers' Federation

Business Benchmark on Animal Welfare has no place in Australia

The peak body for Australia’s farm sector is calling on businesses assessed under the Business Benchmark on Animal Welfare to rethink their links to the scheme. The call follows revelations that the Benchmark will target a contraction in Australia’s livestock sector.

consultation paper released by the UK-based organisation, which is affiliated with some of Australia’s largest companies, proposes to rank companies based on their commitment to ‘reducing reliance on animal products’ – including a plan to halve the multi-billion dollar livestock industry by 2040.

National Farmers’ Federation CEO Tony Mahar said the new target confirms what the Benchmark is really about, and said businesses should instead work directly with customers and suppliers to progress welfare outcomes.

“This proposal lays bare the agenda of the radical activist groups behind this benchmark. It’s not about science-based improvements to animal welfare. It’s an extreme agenda that puts livestock producers and their communities in the crosshairs,” Mr Mahar said.

Mr Mahar said that Australia’s strong regulatory environment and track record – both on animal welfare and sustainability – meant there was no ethical reason to reduce demand for Australian livestock products.

“We take animal welfare incredibly seriously in Australia. Happy, healthy animals are the core of any successful livestock business.

“The idea that we need to reduce demand for sustainable, ethically-grown animal products is completely off the deep end. It’s just out of touch, extremist ideology.”

The NFF is now calling on some of Australia’s largest companies which are assessed under the scheme to withdraw their support.

“This should be a catalyst for any company using this benchmark to get out. These activist groups are no longer even pretending to be sensible. They’re asking companies to phase out a core part of their business.

“Businesses should be working with their suppliers and their customers to progress animal welfare outcomes, not extremist groups on the other side of the world.

“Involving farmers and real consumers in these conversations is the sensible and pragmatic way to get results.”

Mr Mahar said the implications of being led by extremist groups could not be more serious.

“These are our members’ livelihoods they’re targeting – real people, with real businesses, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. We’re talking about a significant slice of the Australian economy.”