When Even Neoliberal Capitalists Sour On Factory Farming, You Know It’s Bad
By Kurtis Bright
Investors Worth Trillions Call For Divestment From Factory Farms
A classic joke told by comedian and actor Larry Miller follows a guy as he progresses through “just having one quick drink with the boys” after work, through stages of just one more beer, to a quick shot, and finally to margaritas being mixed by a laughing Satan at a bar across the state line, asking a waitress with fresh stitches in her head to be his wife.
The final scene has the brutal sunlight of dawn streaming in “...like God’s own flashlight,” and Satan tells the hapless drunk, “Ooh, buddy you’re on your own. I gotta get some sleep before work.”
You can get something of the sense of that from a recent announcement issued by a group of 16 investment groups representing over $1.25 trillion in funds. Turns out they want to talk about divesting from the factory farm model of agriculture.
Which is something like Satan’s final parting shot to the drunk who has gone too far even for the Prince of Darkness: it’s like they’re saying, “Guys, this shit is just too evil, even for us.”
The group is organized under the name Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return and includes some 40 investors who are campaigning to raise awareness about the environmental and health risks that come with factory farming, especially animal agriculture.
Envisioned by Jeremy Coller, founder and chief investment officer of Coller Capital, the group was founded based on the fact that “...a worrying knowledge gap has emerged among investors in relation to the material investment risks and opportunities connected with intensive livestock farming and poor animal welfare standards,” according to the group’s website.
Coller has enlisted investors who collectively manage over $1.25 trillion in funds, so you can be certain that with that kind of money at stake, the rest of the investment world--as well as players in the world of agriculture--are sitting up and taking notice.
“Backed by a new briefing entitled The Future Of Food--The Investment Case For A Protein Shake Up, produced by the FAIRR Initiative and ShareAction, the investors warn of the risks associated with the growing global demand for protein and an over reliance on the unsustainable factory farming of livestock for its supply,” reads a press release from the group. “The briefing highlights the environmental, social and public health risks inherent in this model, which financial markets are not currently valuing appropriately.”
What FAIRR has accomplished as a first step toward initiating divestment in the factory model of agriculture is to contact 16 global-scale food producers, requesting that they acknowledge the risks of continuing on the current path, and calling on them to focus on investing in plant-based protein sources.
Some of the corporations they reached out to include General Mills, Nestlé, Sainsbury’s, Walmart, Kraft, Kroger, Costco, Whole Foods and Mondelez International (which is the parent company of Triscuit, Ritz, Cadbury and host of other foods).
According to the initiative’s site, “...factory farming is emerging as a high-risk production method linked with significant environmental damage and major public health issues, such as the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria and outbreaks of pandemics such as avian flu.”
If even the Devil thinks it’s getting late, maybe it’s time to pay the tab and cash out your chips.