As the article below was being sent to our usual media outlets, WWF released its recent nature report. In the report, eastern Australia is listed as one of 24 global deforestation fronts.

The report goes further, stating that “by far the most significant driver” of forest loss or degradation is due to “cattle ranching”, in which trees are cut down to create pasture for cattle.

These claims by WWF fly in the face of proof and further highlight that WWF believes they have a monopoly on deciding what is right and wrong, and the standards by which the rest of us should live.

19 January 2021. By AgForce CEO Michael Guerin. Also published at Queensland Country Life.

In 2014, the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF's) Senior Vice President of Markets and Food Jason Clay wrote, “We can't touch 7 billion people directly, or even 1.5 billion producers. But we can touch the companies that reach them.”

It was then that WFF decided not to spend their time or money on education strategies or working in partnership with industries and producers, but on assuming control of their futures.

It did this by implementing its ‘Market Transformation’ strategy, targeting the companies producers sell to, realising that they could wield greatest influence by controlling the supply chains or local government legislation.

The biggest benefit to taking this approach was that WFF could leverage the incredible power companies like McDonalds and Unilever – the world’s largest manufacturer of ice cream – have over consumers.

By going after corporate targets and forcing them to transform their operations, WWF has been getting big business and many financial institutions to indirectly suggest to consumers that particular industries aren’t following sustainable environmental or animal care practices when, at least in the case of agriculture, they are.

Coffee, palm oil, aquaculture, and the forestry industry have all been manipulated by market transformation and stewardship schemes, resulting in each having to abide by additional sustainability standards and third-party certification, at significant cost to individual producers.

It has been clear for a while that beef and cane are also in the sights of WWF, with both appearing on a list of 15 commodities WWF states have the biggest impact on areas of global conservation.

"But isn’t having WWF act as an environmental watchdog a good thing?" some members of the public might ask.

Well, not when, in the case of agriculture, we already care for our land and our livestock; we have already reduced CO2 emissions by more than 55 per cent since 2005; we have already increased documented biosecurity plans for cattle properties to 90 per cent, we have already achieved 99 per cent compliance with Australian standards for chemical residues; we have already decreased our water usage; and we have already improved the use of pain relief for sheep and cattle.

Still, for WFF and its legions of lobbyists and environmental devotees, it isn’t enough.

One of the starkest, local examples of WWF’s influence on society and industry is their successful lobbying of the Queensland Labor Government to increase regulation of vegetation management and Reef protection, an issue AgForce has been fighting to ensure remains rooted in scientific rigour.

No sensible person in agriculture doubts that we need to continue to earn our social license to guarantee our right to operate.

We do need to continue to build trust in the community by using the latest technology and farming systems, by increasing our productivity using less resources and less water, and by leaving a smaller environmental footprint.

The problem is that at the moment WWF is using tactics that force industries and individual producers to use expensive third-party auditing and certification schemes controlled or manipulated by WWF itself to prove sustainability.

Australian agriculture already produces some of the finest food and fibre in the world and continues to do so with the spectre of COVID hanging over it.

And while we might not have the clout or weight of numbers behind us that WWF does, AgForce’s message is clear and it’s one we need everyone to get behind to ensure we retain control over our industry’s future: Just because WWF wears a white hat, doesn’t mean they’re always the good guys.