RED meat industry leaders have taken aim at financial institutions that bow to loud-but-misleading animal activists, calling on the Federal Government to consider ceasing commercial dealings with providers who don't support law-abiding businesses.
In a submission to the Inquiry into the Prudential Regulation of Investment in Australia's Export Industries, overarching body The Red Meat Advisory Council expressed deep concerns about 'further contagion spread by extreme anti-farmer and anti-meat activists'.
If left unaddressed, the financial viability of Australia's red meat and livestock industry was at risk of being ransomed to extreme activist agendas, according to RMAC.
"RMAC is conscious that the significant difficulties in gaining access to financial services other law-abiding exporting industries have experienced is starting to emerge in the meat and livestock industry," chair John McKillop said.
"The well-resourced anti-farmer and anti-meat activist lobby, Animals Australia, is already openly calling for non-regulated changes in banking practices."
The RMAC submission quoted an excerpt from the group, which it argued outlined the agenda to prohibit access to financial services by red meat and livestock businesses.
It read: "While many banks have policies on investing in industries such as tobacco and coal, most of them don't take animal welfare into account in any meaningful way when choosing who gets their financial support. This means there's nothing stopping them from lending to cruel animal industries, using your money."
Mr McKillop said misinformed campaigns did not recognise that Australia was the only major exporting nation to require in-market traceability, control and animal welfare standards for Australian live cattle, sheep and goat exports.
"Furthermore, the use of selective information fails to recognise that red meat livestock green house gas emissions have fallen by 56.7 per cent since 2005, representing the most significant reduction by any Australian business sector," he said.
The Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth began the export investment inquiry in February. It is looking at the potential impact on investment opportunities for Australian exporters of changes in practices by banks, insurers and superannuation funds, as well as the advice and guidance provided by financial regulators which affects the investment opportunities for Australian exporters.
Committee chair George Christensen said given the importance of exports to Australia's economy, the inquiry would be an opportunity to examine an issue which could have significant ramifications for the country's economic recovery from COVID-19 and beyond.
Submissions are still open and the committee has put out a call for small businesses that have experienced difficulty in sourcing funding or insurance for their export businesses to contribute.
Mr McKillop said ongoing unimpeded access to the provision of financial services to meat and livestock businesses was essential in supporting the nation's regional economic recovery.
"Without sufficient access to financial services, Australia's red meat and livestock industry will suffer from a lack of large-scale investment in systems and processes, missing opportunities to build enabling capabilities to compete internationally on a price or differentiation basis," he said.
"Long-term confidence in accessing financial services is fundamental to support industry investment protecting existing jobs, and creating new jobs for Australians."
The RMAC submission further called on the Commonwealth Government to issue a statement of intent to be a financial service provider of last resort for law-abiding businesses in instances of market failure and to annually review all providers reported to have refused service to law-abiding businesses.
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Shan Goodwin steers ACM’s national coverage of the beef industry. Shan has worked as a journalist for 30 years, the majority of that with agricultural publications. She spent many years as The Land’s North Coast reporter and has visited beef properties and stations throughout the country and overseas. She treats all breeds equally.
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