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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

Australian Supermarket Chain Withdraws from Animal Welfare Ranking System


Woolworths a major supermarket chain in Australia has withdrawn from the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare.  This organization based in the U.K. ranks companies according to compliance with animal welfare criteria.  Initially the two major Australian supermarkets, Woolworths and Coles subscribed to the program and were working toward increasing their respective rankings. 


Follwing the involvement of extremist groups, Compassion in World Farming and Four Paws International in the Benchmark, Woolworths decided to withdraw and end its progress in ascending tiers to obtain advanced Benchmark ratings.  Extremism in standards imposed by Benchmark would have constrained the supply of meat to Australian supermarkets. In announcing their decision Woolworths stated, “Unfortunately the International Benchmark fails to recognize the unique context of Australian farming and the way farmers care for animals in a different climate and geography.”


Coles supermarket chain appears to be following Woolworths stating, “We have never set a tier target for the Benchmark and we have not endorsed any new methodology as we do not believe it recognizes commitment our suppliers have made to improve animal welfare.”


The Federal Government of Australia is working on a national animal welfare strategy that will be formulated with consultation among a wide range of industry and community groups.  The Department of Agriculture website includes the statement, “A renewed Australian Animal Welfare Strategy reestablishes a framework for priority setting and associated national standards and measures of improvement for animal welfare outcomes.  Demonstrating Australia’s strong welfare standards while supporting increased access to overseas markets will strengthen the reputation of our animal and agriculture industries among trading partners.”


In announcing the withdrawal from the Benchmark, Woolworths stated, “Our own animal welfare standards for suppliers have been developed with experts, independently of the Benchmark and will not be affected by this change.  We know Australian farmers and producers care deeply for the animal they raise and we remain committed to working in partnership with them to improve real animal welfare outcomes.”


The development of a national standard for welfare in Australia should be considered in the U.S.   The recent SCOTUS decision on Proposition #12 increases the need for uniformity to prevent a patchwork of regulations that ultimately impose additional costs for production andcomplications for marketing and distribution. Unrealistic standards imposed by organizations dominated by vegans and welfare extremists are reflected in increased costs to consumers without any direct benefit to livestock and to the detriment of ranchers and packers.

Copyright © 2024 Simon M. Shane