Coles fundraising plan bagged

30 May, 2013 08:15 AM
We need Australian consumers to get behind all of their food producing sectors in a hurry

FARM groups and graziers are outraged Coles is considering a new proposal to sell shopping bags on behalf of Animals Australia.

They fear the funds could be used to back further campaigning efforts designed to undermine the Australian livestock industry and say the group’s agenda is “blatantly anti-farming”.

Coles selling shopping bags in-store to help raise funds for Animals Australia would be a “direct kick in the face” for Australian primary producers, according to Queensland grazier Russell Lethbridge.

Mr Lethbridge joined forces with two other Queensland cattlemen for urgent industry crisis talks in Canberra this week, supported by firebrand Independent MP Bob Katter.

They are calling for direct policy action that needed doing “yesterday” to resolve an industry crisis, including animal welfare, that’s partly being blamed on the government’s snap suspension of the live cattle trade to Indonesia two years ago.

But the grazier was angered by news Coles had confirmed the controversial proposal with Animals Australia was under consideration, despite the activist group’s central role in orchestrating the ban and ongoing calls to end it.

“That would be a direct kick in the face to the people Coles deals with and grows product for on a daily basis,” Mr Lethbridge said.

“Where the heck do you think Coles gets its beef from?

“They get it from us.

“When the capacity of the Australian beef industry has been reduced, and that’s what we’re talking about, an exodus of an industry that’s not been seen in Australia before, I wonder where the product will come from then?”

Coles spokesman Robert Hadler confirmed the supermarket giant was considering the proposal.

He said Animals Australia had supported Coles’ sow stall-free pork and cage-free egg initiatives and their joint work to promote sow stall-free pork may include selling an Animals Australia shopping bag, similar to a recent Landcare promotion.

Mr Hadler played down concerns about potential links between the shopping bag promotion and other agendas to undermine agricultural farming systems.

“The partnership with Animals Australia and other community groups gives Coles an opportunity to listen as well as provide information to them about the practical supply chain issues that need to be managed,” he said.

“This allows us to work through issues in a way that helps farmers adapt to community expectations."

The move has also raised the ire of the National Farmers Federation (NFF).

“While we understand retailers may wish to find a point of difference in their marketing, we are extremely disappointed Coles would consider partnering with an organisation that is blatantly anti-farming, openly promotes veganism and is actively working to stop animal agriculture,” the NFF said in a statement.

“On behalf of Australian farmers, many of whom supply Coles, we’re looking for an explanation.”

Australian Farm Institute director Mick Keogh also expressed concern, noting Animals Australia was strongly opposed to Australian livestock production and associated industries, not just live exports.

He said the idea of joint fundraising efforts through Coles’ retail stores raised “very serious doubts” about the sincerity of other programs the supermarket operated to promote positive outcomes for Australian agriculture and promote consumer understanding.

“For Coles to simply align with them flies in the face of other programs and advertising that supposedly supports the farm sector – there’s no other way to look at it.”

Another one of the graziers joining Mr Lethbridge and Barry Hughes for the Canberra crsis meetings, Rob Atkinson, expressed bitter disappointment at the Coles and Animals Australia alliance.

Mr Atkinson said the Coles consideration was “just a kick in the guts” and ill timed.

“I think of Coles like the dairy farmers do with the $1/litre milk,” he said.

“I wouldn’t be walking through Coles’ front door in too much of a hurry if they start fundraising for Animals Australia.”

Mr Atkinson urged Australian food consumers to stop and listen to what producers had to say about their own industry and its values, rather than rely on information from an activist group.

“This is an industry in peril,” he said.

“We need Australian consumers to get behind all of their food producing sectors in a hurry, big time, beef and dairy, it doesn’t matter what it is there needs to be big change.

“We all need food to survive but the Australian food consumer needs to take a long hard look whether they want to give their families the clean green products produced by their farmers in Australia every day or get it from an unknown quantity offshore because that is where we are headed.”

However, Mr Hadler played down concerns about the negative perception of Animals Australia among the nation’s farmers, after the group’s key role in orchestrating the federal government’s snap suspension of the live cattle trade to Indonesia in June 2011.

“The Coles and Animals Australia partnership on sow stall-free pork is a specific initiative that has nothing to do with the broader Animals Australia agenda,” he said.

“We are confident we are engaging constructively with key community groups and listening to the views and working with them to achieve common objectives that our customers support.”

Mr Hadler said Coles had encouraged farm organisations to engage constructively with Animals Australia and see them as a partner, not an enemy.

Opposition agriculture spokesman John Cobb believed Coles would trial Animals Australia supermarket bags in about 50 stores, and said the move was a “disgrace”.

“Coles needs to call off the stunt and send a clear message that they back Australian farmers.”

Date: Newest first | Oldest first


2/06/2013 9:08:56 PM

Coles providing support of any kind to Animals Australia should be seen as a threat to their existence as a supplier of fresh food to Australian public. Just as Animals Australia has brought about the cruel death of animals now dying through lack of grass. Those cattle would have been reduced the stress of starvation if producers were able to move cattle earlier through the live export trade. This stress is now flowing onto producers further south as starving stock are being pushed south and reducing the income of these cattle producers. Loss of income now stresses these families daily living.
Cattle Advocate
3/06/2013 5:02:14 AM

AA has lead a charmed life not having to come up with an alternative to LE but still the profits keep rolling in. If it getts its way and LE is banned how low will domestic meat prices go that SM will pay? While BLE was shooting Aus in the animal welfare foot, surprise surprise NZ earned $218m from LE in 2011. If Aus starts loosing 400,000 cows and calves to horrible deaths every year how will the world judge that? With our trade in food and groceries swinging into the negitive by $7.2B in 6 years will SM help out with exports or will our Miners have to pick up the tab?
Cattle Advocate
3/06/2013 5:25:10 AM

The UK banned sow stalls outright over a decade ago, since the latest horsemeat freud they have hightened concerns about their 60pc of imported pork. The 1/1/2013 EU ban on sow stalls still allows for about 20pc of their use but the EC is taking action that may take over a year for incomplete compliance by Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Cyprus, Denmark and Germany. Germany imports 9m piglets and about 5m slaughter pigs from Denmark and the Netherlands pa. Similar action is being taken against 2 EU members over the 1/1/2012 caged hen ban.
Cattle Advocate
3/06/2013 5:38:48 AM

UK Vet Stephen Lister ''Good animal welfare, in my opinion, would be best achieved if these committed producers are rewarded with a realistic return on their investment in caring for animals and satisfying the wants of consumers and the needs of the animals.'' BFEPA's Rodger Gent ''We have no arguement with eggs or egg product coming from any part of the world but if they are selling those eggs as free range then they must be free range. There are states in America where the eggs are sold as free range but it is illegal for birds to be let out side. When welfare accounts for 15pc of our-
Cattle Advocate
3/06/2013 5:54:27 AM

Rodger Gent ''-costs then it is impossible for us to compete in a global market unless we have a level playing field,'' US U Egg P Chad Gregory ''It is one thing for Europe and the US to have a position to take birds out of cages for social or emotional reasons, but it's a different thing to tell people in South America or Africa to do the same thing when they are struggling to feed their people.'' Egg Farmers of Canada's Tim Lambert ''Including animal welfare as a condition in any International agreements would be 'challenging' not every country has the same perspective as Europe does.''
3/06/2013 6:32:17 AM

These bags WILL be in stores tomorrow, as such Coles have treated rural press like they treat nearly everyone else, with contempt. Your journalist was blatantly misled as there is no way they were "considering" anything, it was a done deal. Time to stop these arrogant giants.
Jen from the bush
3/06/2013 8:02:22 AM

Wonder if any of these bright sparks have even thought of the possibility that if some of these large populated countries get hungry enough there isn't actually much to stop them coming and getting the food. We can't even stop boat people landing on Au so certainly isn't much to stop any other determined person. Laugh of the day is thinking of how all these pollies and AAs etc will try to survive.
3/06/2013 1:44:19 PM

Factory farming is animal abuse and a disgraceful way to make a living. I'll be buying even more bags than I planned to now, and will be encouraging others to do the same. Good for you, COLES!
Dirty Redneck
3/06/2013 2:19:17 PM

Ohh LilyT, you big drip give me a tissue and get the violin out.
3/06/2013 2:26:48 PM

Best way to give Coles/Wesfarmers the message about being connected with loonies is for Coles shoppers to switch to Woolies. That will hurt them.
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