HIGH PROFILE mining and farming mogul Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has broken big bridges in one of his main investment sectors, Australian beef, by doubling down on his attacks on good standards -be animal.
After running full-page ads in metropolitan newspapers across the country in which he issued a public challenge to rival beef exporter JBS to “do better” in preventing animal pain and suffering, the Dr Forrest extended his claims to the entire Australian beef processing industry.
He told ABC’s Landline that the entire beef processing industry in Australia and around the world “really doesn’t have high standards when it comes to the last 50 meters of an animal’s life.”
And he was sure that “all beef producers in our beautiful country” feel the same.
“It breaks a lot of hearts to think that these animals that they have looked after all of their lives are going to be treated with cruelty and have extreme stress and fear,” said Dr. Forrest.
The law here may well be below what you or I would think is correct, he asserted.
Agforce Cattle Board chairman Will Wilson said the comments were “in many ways wrong.”
They were totally unaware of the cutting edge standard under which the treatment works – Australia’s animal welfare certification system, Wilson said.
They also risked unfairly dragging an entire industry’s reputation into the mud, he said.
Plus, Dr Forrest’s strategy was morally questionable, he said.
“If he is looking for a brand difference in the concept of ‘no pain, no fear’, that’s fine, but it’s not correct to disparage the rest of an industry, unfairly, in the process,” Wilson said.
“Our animal welfare practices are global best practices, we are constantly scrutinized by customers, and enormous effort and resources are devoted to animal welfare.”
Australian Cattle Council chairman Markus Rathsmann said the CCA had no evidence of substandard animal welfare practices in the beef supply chain.
“Producers expect high animal welfare standards to be met throughout the life of our livestock,” he said.
“Producers take care of our animals and the way they are treated beyond the farm. For this reason, CCA has played a key role in developing industry standards for how animals should be cared for throughout the supply chain.
“There is a lot of rigor in these standards.”
Mr. Rathsmann added that animals that are well cared for and not stressed at slaughter provide a much better product.
Dr Forrest owns a beef processing company, Harvey Beef in Western Australia, as well as a Harvest Road aquaculture business.
He is also a co-owner of Tasmanian salmon producer Huon Aquaculture, which JBS is seeking to acquire.
It was this move by the world’s largest protein company that initially sparked Twiggy’s animal welfare attack, and many in the beef industry believe it is part of a strategy to to position Harvest Road as a better candidate for the takeover.
ALSO LOOK AT: JBS vs. Forrest battle escalates with resumption of Huon’s revival
Leading processing group, the Australian Meat Industry Council, said the AAWCS had been in operation for a decade, was audited independently, annually and globally, and went well beyond minimum standards of well- to be animal.
It covers everything from professionally trained processing staff in low stress handling techniques to designing facilities and equipment that ensures minimal interference and stress for livestock. Processing should only be carried out in an accredited humane and efficient manner.
AMIC CEO Patrick Hutchinson said his brand is used in Australian supermarkets and recognized in export markets to support commercial brands.
The processing industry was extremely open and transparent and willing to answer any questions about how it was handling animal welfare, he said.
“We exceed the animal welfare requirements held by industry, governments and the community,” he said.
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The Backlash story about Twiggy’s animal welfare claims first appeared on Farm Online.