August 25, 2021


Huon Aquaculture slams animal welfare comments on potential owner JBS



THE board of Tasmania, Australia-based Huon Aquaculture has dismissed calls from investor Dr. Twiggy Forrest for better animal welfare performance and barbs at the company's suitor, global red meat processor JBS, as corporate "noise".


In recent full page newspaper advertisements, Dr. Forrest called on JBS to improve its animal husbandry processes, and accused it of not operating on a "no pain, no fear" basis in its meat processing plants.


In further comments made on ABC's Landline TV programme, Dr. Forrest widened the scope of his criticisms of JBS to include all meat processors, including chicken, pork, lamb and beef.


"The whole of the beef processing industry in Australia and worldwide, really don't have great standards when it comes to the final 50 metres of an animal's life," he told Landline.


"I don't think it's good enough. The whole of the farming industry works really hard to look after their animals – it's a heart-breaking situation if you think an animal you have cared for all of its life goes through extreme duress and/or pain. It doesn't have to be like that," he said.


"No pain, No fear is a tough target, but it is very doable – we have the technology."


According to Beef Central, Huon Aquaculture may have perceived that Dr Forrest's animal welfare and environmental criticisms were directed at the salmon producer as well.


In separate statements to Huon shareholders delivered on August 23, Huon board chairman Neil Kearney and JBS both rejected any suggestions made by Dr. Forrest that they operated under questionable animal welfare practices.


On August 6, Huon entered into an agreement with JBS to acquire 100% of Huon shares for $3.85 cash per share. Since then, Tattarang Agrifood, a company owned by Dr. Forrest, has acquired an 18.5% stake in Huon, and indicated it might not support the JBS proposal.


"Dr Forrest has questioned aspects of the animal husbandry practices of JBS and environmental standards of Huon and the salmon industry in Tasmania," Kearney said.


He added that it was important to note that the JBS proposal was the culmination of a rigorous strategic review process that was designed to identify the most compelling value proposition for all Huon shareholders. He also stated that Huon's directors would continue to act in the interests of its shareholders.


"We are focused on providing shareholders… with the opportunity to secure proper value for all their Huon shares. We will not be distracted by external noise that does not provide Huon shareholders with that opportunity."


In the event of a transaction proceeding, a new owner of Huon would be required to adhere to rigorous environmental and animal welfare standards.


"In its commitments to animal welfare and sustainability, JBS has pledged to build on the legacy we have built at Huon," Kearney said.


In a second statement provided to Huon shareholders, JBS Australia chief executive Brent Eastwood said his company unequivocally supported the concept of ‘No pain, No fear' and upheld the highest standards of animal welfare in Australia.


"JBS Australia fully complies with Australian Animal Welfare Standards and is certified under the AusMeat – Industry Animal Welfare Certification Program (AAWCS) for livestock processing facilities," Eastwood added.


- Beef Central