Rabobank focuses explicitly on sustainability in livestock farming

Rabobank, as a leading financier of agriculture and food production worldwide, attaches a great deal of importance to the sustainable development of livestock farming. This is why Rabobank rejects the conclusions that the Dutch animal welfare organisation Wakker Dier and research agency Profundo is suggesting today in a publication on the financing of large-scale livestock farming outside the Netherlands and the related consequences for animal welfare.

It is Rabobank’s opinion that the report published by Wakker Dier contains only vague allusions to deficiencies in practice. In conversations with clients who are investing in a new stall, Rabobank brings the topic of sustainable livestock housing systems explicitly to their attention. With respect to animal welfare, the bank expects its clients to comply with Rabobank’s food & agribusiness principles and animal welfare policy, which states that the housing system must allow for the animal’s behavioural needs. Rabobank follows the guidelines of the International Finance Corporation, which relate to matters such as a quality housing system, sufficient access to feed and water, the prevention of discomfort and pain for animals, minimisation of injuries, the application of a preventative health programme and the prevention of needlessly long transport times.

Large-scale livestock farming

Wakker Dier commissioned Profundo to conduct research into investments in the global livestock and meat processing companies. According to Profundo, Rabobank has been the largest financier of the global livestock and meat processing industry over the past four years. Profundo claims a number of these companies have also set up large-scale livestock farming companies (primarily pigs and chickens) with which banks are affiliated as financier. According to Profundo, this involves a ‘scale that is controversial in the Netherlands. In addition, companies in countries that have a growing meat industry (growth markets) follow policy that is usually insufficient to guarantee animal welfare according to European standards.’ Profundo also writes: ‘None of the banks state a maximum for the number of animals that can be kept at one location.’

No objective criteria for the size of a company, either in terms of surface space or the number of animals, are available globally. The optimum size depends on the local conditions and, for example, legal prerequisites. Rabobank is furthermore of the opinion that the size of a company is not a measure of the level of animal welfare, food safety, food quality or sustainable production. Rabobank observes that large companies or companies that bring together various functions often actually score better in the area of sustainability.