AgForce in fightback against “anti-meat agenda”
Queensland's peak farming lobby group will launch a fightback campaign in response to what it claims is an anti-meat agenda promoted by Coles.
The AgForce initiative follows the release of the supermarket's current monthly in-store magazine and online content which encourages consumers to eat less meat and more plant-based alternatives.
That advice not only triggered irate blowback on social media from primary producers but a spray from AgForce boss Mike Guerin.
He met with Coles executives in a Zoom meeting Friday to complain about the offending material and demand that it be removed.
"The issue is not about being vegan. We support the freedom to choose,'' Guerin told City Beat.
"But when we see a major retailer suggesting that meat is bad for the environment and bad for your health when the exact opposite is true, it's disingenuous at best and needs to be called out.
"There's incredible frustration about this ongoing misinformation campaign by the anti-farming movement that is pervasive and well-funded. It's aggressively anti-farming and incredibly debilitating."
In a counterpunch to all this, Guerin plans to wheel out data on Monday outlining what he called "the health and environmental benefits of a balanced diet'' backed up by peer-reviewed studies.
"To have Coles stand beside us would be awesome,'' he said.
KNICKERS IN A KNOT
So what precisely got the AgForce knickers in a knot?
"Go meat free on more than just Monday,'' the January edition of the Coles magazine says.
"Not only is eating less meat good for the environment - and your budget - but it can also have a positive impact on your health.
"Eating vegetarian meals a couple of times a week is a great way to enjoy more veg in your diet, while cutting down on saturated fats. Try swapping meat for flat mushrooms, sweet potato, butternut pumpkin, or canned beans and lentils in your cooking".
A Coles spokeswoman denied the retail giant was waging a war on behalf of vegetarians, noting that the magazine was still heavily weighted towards recipes with red and white meat.
"Coles magazine is designed to inspire customers," she said.
"Coles cares about how our food is produced and sourced and we are committed to working towards a sustainable future that supports local farmers and food producers. We are committed to sustainable beef production."
The dust-up between AgForce and Coles comes as it's clear consumers are demanding more meat alternatives, with plant-based foods becoming so mainstream that even Macca's and Hungry Jack's now flog veggie-burgers.
THE YEAR AHEAD
Coincidentally, agribusiness mob Rabobank released its annual industry forecast for the year ahead on Friday and it's mostly upbeat news for the folks who tough it out on the land.
"In a current global environment marked by the pandemic, political tensions and trade wars, demand for food and agri products has remained unexpectedly strong," researcher and report author Tim Hunt said.
"And despite the punitive actions of China on Australian agriculture, high agricultural commodity prices, low interest rates and positive seasonal conditions are underpinning a positive outlook for most farmers in 2020/21."
For all those beef producers who took umbrage with Coles, there's good reason to remain optimistic.
The Rabobank study predicts 2021 will be "a rebuild year, with favourable conditions triggering increased breeding numbers and reduced slaughter keeping cattle prices firm''.
Originally published as AgForce in fightback against "anti-meat agenda"