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Public opinion about factory farming...

Tuesday and Wednesday saw the National Farmer's Federation (NFF) angered over Coles' decision to support Animals Australia's campaign. This was accompanied by some seriously impassioned debate all over social media, much of it further slamming Coles.

Wednesday afternoon saw Animals Australia request that Coles withdraw sale of the bags.

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Its clear public opinion about factory farming, and about the group Animals Australia is heavily divided.

Some view Coles support for AAs campaign as deeply hypocritical, given that much of the meat Coles stocks is from livestock producers who use factory farming methods.

I saw a couple of tweets about Animals Australias choice to use polyurethane bags as unenvironmental (fair enough, why not brand some calico bags?)

Others have argued that Coles support for AAs campaign is a ploy to improve their public image whilst continuing to exploit Australian dairy farmers on milk prices, as well as use their massive corporate muscle to drive down prices with fruit and vegetable producers, also hurting Australian farmers.

Farming lobby groups called on the public to temporarily boycott Coles unless they withdraw their support for the Animals Australia fundraising campaign arguing that the campaign will hurt Australian livestock farmers and meat producers. A facebook page titled: I will boycott Coles for their support of Animals Australia was set up on Monday this week and has attracted over 3,500 members in a matter of four days.

Comments on the page describe Animals Australia as a radical group with an extremist agenda who are anti-meat and against Australian livestock producers.

Ultimately a backlash against Coles from the agricultural industry, farming groups such as NFF and some Australian consumers resulted in Animals Australia requesting on Wednesday that Coles remove the blue bags for sale.

I must admit, I have been surprised by the reaction. Going by how quickly the free-range chicken brands sell out of the supermarket I would have thought the public response would have been less vehemently against Animals Australia.

Given this is such a devisive and strongly felt issue, I'm aware that publishing my personal position may get me into trouble, but I'm going to do it anyway, because I think this is a topic that should at the very least be talked about. I might also learn something I don't know. So here goes:

  • I support the work of Animals Australia and think Australias (and the globes) meat production processes need improving.
  • I supported Coles support for the AA campaign but this doesn't mean I'm head over heels in love with Coles and that I support all of their practices. I know that both Coles and Woolworths wield too much power over farmers.
  • I have always boycotted Coles and Woolworths brand milk because I believe super cheap milk and the milk wars between the two supermarket giants hurts Australian dairy farmers. It forces them to cut corners ethically and environmentally in order to survive. I will always spend more on branded milk.
  • I don't buy Coles or Woolworths branded anything if I can help it. Whilst it's cheaper I know this hurts producers and eliminates diversity, encourages industry monopoly, and ultimately diminishes consumer power and choice.
  • I try my best to avoid factory farmed meat where possible, including when I order takeaway, because I believe factory farming damages the environment (soil, water, runoff), is inhumane and disrespectful to the animals, and potentially compromises our own health (through use of chemical pesticides used on grain feed, and antibiotics fed to the animals).
  • I think factory farming has become so normal and widespread that as a society we have possibly become desensitised to the suffering experienced by some animals. However it seems we are only desensitised to the suffering of certain animals, the ones in our food supply (chickens, pigs, sheep and cows). Suffering experienced by other animals such as horses and dogs is widely considered unacceptable.
  • I don't believe Animals Australia has an anti meat agenda and is against Australian livestock producers. I see their Make it Possible campaign as an attempt to raise awareness about how prevalent factory farming is in Australia, to encourage consumers to think more deeply about what goes into the production of their meat. And finally an attempt to encourage Australian livestock producers to change their farming methods.
  • I think consumers ultimately vote with their dollar. Those who prefer cheaper meat and are comfortable with their meat being produced in factory farms in order to keep the price down will buy that. And those who oppose factory-farmed meat will buy alternatives.
  • Although the Make it Possible video and campaign calls for a world without factory farming, which in effect is a complete overhaul of our current meat production processes, I think it's strengths lie in shining a light on a farming method that has become too normal, and bringing some transparency to something the average consumer may not have thought about before. Realistically I think it may result in a better balance of meat products available and more choice for the consumer.

What are your thoughts on this weeks events, and what's your opinion of the Make it Possible video?

Do you view Animals Australia as a radical group with an extremist agenda?

What do you make of Coles support for Animals Australia's campaign whilst continuing to drive prices down with farmers in other areas of the supermarket, such as milk, fruit and vegetables?

Do you think the Make it Possible campaign will hurt Australian farmers financially?

Do you see factory farming as necessary for Australian livestock producers to remain economically viable in a world where consumers ultimately want the cheapest price possible?

Do you think our grandparents would have approved of factory farming?

Do you think the 3,500 people supporting the I will boycott Coles for their support of Animals Australia Facebook page are an accurate representation of what Australian consumers want?

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Posted in Organic Products Post Date 04/25/2017


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