Hindus are urging Australia Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce to halt the funding to Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) for apparently reckless marketing strategies which have upset Hindu and other faith communities worldwide.
“Producer-owned” MLA, which plans to invest $267.3 million in 2017-18 in research-development-marketing activities, is reportedly primarily funded by livestock transaction levy collected by Australia’s Department of Agriculture and matched funding from Australian government.
Besides blocking public funding to MLA; distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, also urged Australia’s Department of Agriculture to impose fine on MLA for hurting the sentiments of Hindus and other religious communities worldwide, and ask MLA to immediately withdraw “You Never Lamb Alone” video ad which seemed to make fun of Lord Ganesha. Moreover, MLA Board Chair Dr. Michele Allan and Managing Director Richard Norton should resign for apparently working against the interests of the organization by upsetting communities instead of charming them, Zed added.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted that MLA seemed to be rebuffing its own “Code of Business Conduct and Ethics”, which included using “MLA’s assets appropriately” and acting “responsibly with respect to members, stakeholders, customers, suppliers, competitors, the community and others”; by spending public funds on insensitive and unnecessary lamb ad which had perturbed the Hindu and other faith communities world over.
Was this the MLA way to “deliver value to levy payers”, “create a human bond between cattle and sheep producers and the community”, “build industry’s reputation”, “ensure that stakeholder interests are protected”, “having regard to the best interests of our members”, value “customer centricity”? Rajan Zed asked.
Zed indicated that instead of “investing in initiatives that contribute to producer profitability”, MLA had gotten off-track and was now “highlighting the diversity of religious beliefs” in the recent campaign which trivialized religion and various religious figures.
MLA claims to strive “to be the recognised leader in delivering world-class…marketing outcomes that benefit Australian cattle, sheep and goat producers.” Did one become a world-class marketing leader by upsetting communities around the globe with ad campaigns launched with public money? Rajan Zed further asked.
With ad campaigns like MLA’s “You Never Lamb Alone”, which had created more negative vibe than positive one, Australia should be concerned about expanding its meat and livestock exports to over 100 countries and producers should be worried about profitability, Zed pointed out.
Besides Zed; Senior Greek Orthodox Christian Priest Stephen R. Karcher, Buddhist Priest Matthew T. Fisher and well-known Jewish Rabbi in Nevada-California ElizaBeth Webb Beyer—all in USA; also denounced lamb marketing using religious figures, which they said trivialized various religious figures; and urging withdrawal of the video ad.
If this apparent MLA stubbornness continued despite universal condemnation, Hindus might think of launching worldwide boycott of Australian lamb meat, Rajan Zed had stated.
This “new integrated campaign continues with the theme that Lamb is the dish that brings everyone together, with the creative content for online, social and TV showing the Gods, Goddesses and Prophets of different faiths and beliefs coming together over Lamb at a modern day spring barbecue”, an MLA release about the video ad stated.
MLA, with about 50,000 livestock producer members and headquartered in North Sydney, “delivers research, development and marketing services to Australia’s cattle, sheep and goat producers”.