QUEENSLAND Nationals Senator Ron Boswell has blasted plans by green group WWF to make beef producers more sustainable as an "extortion scheme" ruining Australian industry.
And the Senator doesn't stop there - reprimanding beef industry corporations and beef producer funded organisations like Cattle Council of Australia for continuing to engage with the extreme conservation group.
In a speech to the Senate on Wednesday afternoon, Senator Boswell said "hard working primary producers" were being duped into believing that by working with environmental groups such as WWF their long-term future was assured.
Senator Boswell's assessment comes after months of probing into the activities of WWF and its lead role with a still relatively secretive group called the Australian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (ARSB), whose members include JBS Australia, Teys Cargill, McDonald's, and the Cattle Council of Australia. Despite meetings held in Meat and Livestock Australia offices in Brisbane, MLA insists it is not part of group.
Senator Boswell has called on all industry members to shun the ARSB and WWF's overtures based on the organisation's poor track record in claiming it acts in the best interests of primary producers.
"The WWF is the same group that waged a campaign against the land and regrowth clearing practices of Queensland farmers. The resulting vegetation management laws crippled the cattle industry - yet WWF called the laws "disappointing" and campaigned for even tighter restrictions," he said.
"If any grazier familiar with WWF's role in this campaign thinks it is now acting in the best interests of the cattle industry, then they believe in the tooth fairy."
In the speech, Senator Boswell points out that the ARSB is "part of a worldwide, coordinated campaign by WWF and others to squeeze primary industry dry under the pretences of 'sustainability'."
"In Australia, these green groups have gone from the timber to the seafood to the sugar sectors, dragging farmers into expensive, time-consuming certification schemes. "These schemes have made the NGOs (non-government officers, like WWF) a tidy profit, but have done almost nothing for industry or the environment.
"Make no mistake, this is a backdoor method used by clever extreme greens to cripple primary industry. Sustainability here is a cover word for 'suicide' by any business silly enough to fall for the siren song of these radicals."
Senator Boswell also called for Cattle Council of Australia to sever its close links with WWF, describing executive director David Inall's strategy in dealing with the organisation as naive.
"On one hand, the president of AgForce, Brent Finlay, agrees with me that graziers should run a hundred miles from the ARSB. But then there's the executive director of the Cattle Council of Australia, David Inall, who's said: "If you're not at the table, you're on the menu".
"Inall thinks if beef industry stakeholders keep an eye on WWF at ARSB meetings, they can be spared the mandatory regulations WWF has inflicted on other primary sectors. I say that if you think associating with WWF will leave the cattle industry better off, then you're wrong."
Senator Boswell said the appointment of South East Queensland beef producer Ian McConnel to the role of WWF's sustainable beef project coordinator should also have beef producers on high alert, based on Mr McConnel's recent public statements that WWF could be trusted and the actions of others within WWF behind closed doors.
"There is documented proof WWF is working behind the scenes against the industry. Just last month, WWF-Australia made two submissions to Queensland parliamentary committee inquiries savagely denigrating the cattle industry's sustainability record and unfairly accusing it of polluting the Great Barrier Reef," he said.
"So WWF is publicly saying producers can trust them, and that it is fully accountable to its ARSB industry partners. Yet here we have two documents it has submitted to Parliament, with no industry consultation, saying compulsory standards must be implemented or beef producers will continue to pollute the Reef with impunity. The deception is staggering."
Senator Boswell said if beef producers wanted to know what WWF was planning for their industry, they only needed to look at the recent experience of the seafood industry, shackled by costly certification schemes and retailer imposed regulations at the behest of WWF...