There is no sustainable future for Big Meat and Big Dairy. It’s time to divest and defund.

8th Sep 20 by Daniel Jones

There is no version of climate and ecological justice that involves factory farming.

I have a confession to make.

I’m a shareholder in Barclays Bank.

Earlier this year, alongside 130 other people, I bought one share in Barclays and signed ShareAction’s shareholder resolution calling for the bank to stop funding coal and tar sands. Barclays and its major backers, such as the investment behemoth Blackrock, did not listen.

Barclays has provided 85 billion to fossil fuel corporations over the past three years. Now is the time to act! It is time to divest and defund.

On Friday, I turned up at Barclay’s to make the point again. And this time a little bit louder – my small act of solidarity with those on the frontlines of the climate crisis. I had tagged along to a protest led by Animal Rebellion who – inspired by Feedback’s research – were highlighting the finance behind another set of corporations with climate footprints that will, unchecked, rival the annual emissions of Big Oil: Big Meat and Big Dairy.

The focus was Barclay’s, because as well as it’s big investments in oil and gas infrastructure Barclays funds a who’s who of industrial agriculture:
over the past five years, Barclays provided $3.7 billion to the Brazilian butchers JBS – accused of destroying the Amazon, convicted of bribing politicians. It has funded WH Group to the tune $713 million, which at the height of the pandemic ramped up exports, and rather than addressing concerns about it’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic – where a single slaughterhouse became America’s biggest outbreak, lashed out at reporters and ‘critics’ instead. Barclay’s has financed meat giant Tyson to the tune of $2 billion – a company whose lobbying enabled Big Meat to continue to operate during the pandemic as Trump classed meat processing as an ‘essential industry’, while the same employers treated their predominantly Black, Latino and Asian workers as expendable: “a choice made in pursuit of additional profit, not to ameliorate any domestic food supply issue”. As of writing there are over 40,000 cases of Coronavirus in US meat processing plants. And it has provided over $3.2 billion Cargill – the ‘worst company in the world’ – whose billionaire family owners paid themselves a record dividend. The list goes on. Barclay’s has even lent and invested over 90 million in Spam producer Hormel.

Animal Rebellion’s protest was outside a temporarily closed high-street bank: but as our Executive Director Carina Millstone pointed out in her speech, Barclay’s branch managers, cashiers and customers have little to do with this. Like you and me they are caught up in a system. A system that prioritises shareholder dividends over our environment and over human and animal lives. Barclays, HSBC, Santander… barely any of the UK’s high street banks are not tied up in financing factory farming corporations.

But just like Big Oil there is no sustainable future for Big Meat and Big Dairy. It’s time to divest and defund.

I am far from an enthusiastic supporter of Extinction and Animal Rebellion, and while we may not agree on everything regarding the future of the food-system and how to get there, surely we all can agree on this: There is no version of climate and ecological justice that involves factory farming.

Big Livestock = Big Trouble.

The Big Livestock industry is causing global heating and destruction of biodiversity. This needs to stop. Will you help us by making a donation to support our independent campaigning?

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