This May, the 2017 Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series will examine the real costs of animal agriculture, and ask the question - could a tax on meat be the answer?
To answer this question is lawyer and author of Meatonomics, David Robinson Simon.
In his lectures, David will discuss how animal food producers rely on government subsidies, artificially-low prices, and influence over legislation and regulation to provide the cheap meat, eggs and dairy to which consumers have become accustomed.
David was the first person to calculate the enormous hidden costs that the US animal food system imposes on taxpayers, animals and the environment, finding that these totalled to at least $414 billion annually.
Delivering seven lectures across seven capital cities in this exclusive Australian Lecture Series, David will show how US meat and dairy producers have influenced markets and consumer behaviour, and how Australian meat and dairy producers have already begun implementing the American playbook in a number of ways.
“The same forces are at work in Australia. Animal food producers have successfully pushed for legislation in a number of Australian states and territories that helps externalise their production costs and insulate them from scrutiny and liability,” said David.
“These measures keep prices of meat low and consumption high, and they help explain why Australia’s per capita meat consumption is among the highest in the world.”
According to think tank Chatham House, global meat consumption has already reached unhealthy levels, with the average person living in an industrialised country already eating twice as much meat as is deemed healthy by experts. This trend is set to continue, with global meat consumption estimated to rise by over 75 per cent by 2050.
A tax on meat could go some way to curb Australia’s high meat consumption and reduce our impact on animals and the environment. This proposal has support in other nations, with an Oxford University team calculating in 2016 that surcharges of 40% on beef and 20% on milk would account for the damage their production causes people via climate change alone.
“At an institutional level, we could address these issues by introducing a tax on any food products that contain animal products. In addition to eliminating subsidies and government-sponsored programs that encourage people to eat more meat, we could reduce consumption, and its associated impacts, significantly,” said David.
The 2017 Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series will visit seven Australian capital cities.