Beware of Greens bearing gifts, or perhaps;
Nice industry you have there, be a shame if something happened to it.
Various industries have paid a heavy price for listening to the Siren song of environmental groups on sustainability and a cooperative approach to meeting environmental goals in production.
The Tasmanian forestry industry is a case in point where the forests agreement has gutted the timber industry. This has been so successful from a green perspective that attempts to revive it have been met with claims that it is so small that there is no need to open up more logging areas.
In Queensland, farmers who accepted the Greens support in protecting their land from mining and CSG wells, found that the proposed legislation to ‘protect strategic crop land’ put more restrictions on the farmers themselves than the miners and gas explorers.
After moves by the WWF to sucker the beef industry into their global roundtable for sustainable beef, the industry has decided to implement their own, on their own:
… A so-called “square table’’ meeting in Brisbane on Friday, attended by 27 beef industry leaders, agreed to create a new taskforce to develop the sustainability framework independent of WWF.
The meeting was chaired by former AACo Managing Director David Farley.
The meeting, pushed by Queensland Nationals Senators Ron Boswell and Barry O’Sullivan came after warnings from trade expert Alan Oxley that the WWF inspired Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef risked tying farmers up in green tape and was a move designed by environmentalists to “control farming’’.
The industry lead “square-table’’ forum was attended by the Cattle Council of Australia (CCA), Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC), Australian Lot Feeders Association (ALFA), Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC), National Farmers Federation (NFF), AgForce, NSW Farmers Association, Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association (NTCA), Animal Medicines Australia (AMA), Hughes Pastoral, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and the Federal Government.
Red Meat Advisory Council chairman Ross Keane said Australia already had systems in place that were superior to their international competitors. He said the “square table’’ initiative had the backing of the meat industry from processors to retailers.
The creation of the taskforce placed the control and responsibility of sharing Australian beef’s sustainability credentials squarely in the hands of industry.“As an industry, we need to keep pace — if not stay at the fore of — consumer requirements and community expectations,” Mr Keane said.
Last month, former trade ambassador and the chairman of the APEC Centre at RMIT University, Mr Oxley, warned beef producers against the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, which is formulating “sustainability’’ guidelines for the Australian industry.
He accused environmental groups of exploiting secondary boycott loopholes to hold a threat over producers that a major customer such as Woolworths or McDonald’s, which is involved in the roundtable talks, will stop buying their beef unless they sign up to the initiative.
“This is not just green tape, this is green thuggery,’’ Mr Oxley said.
“With booming Asian demand, Australia’s beef industry has a very rosy future. Farmers are demanding the government free trade and open foreign markets. They should also demand the government free the domestic market from mafia-style market capture.” …
This is a great first step, but the real fight is yet to come. The WWF and its green henchmen are not going to take this one lying down and will fight back. The threat of boycotts by major distributors like McDonalds or Woolworths is real.
Another serious threat is the current government. Abbott has his back to the wall over the proposed budget and will be looking for friends and support to get some of the more contentious measures through parliament. This is where the Greens can play a part in screwing graziers over.
Senator Ron Boswell has been one of the primary forces in getting the beef industry to reject the advances of big eco, along with senator elect David Leyonhjelm and others.
Ron is retiring at the end of June and will leave a huge gap in the political credibility of the coalition government. He is probably the most highly principled member of the current government since Bert Kelly and Bill Wentworth, and has not hesitated in putting his career on the line in pursuit of what is right on a number of occasions in a long and honorable career.
Whether any of those left are prepared to stand up for the industry in the face of deals to get their agenda past the senate is a matter we should not feel totally optimistic about.