NSW Farmers respond to animal activists protest across Australia

Animal rights' protesters blocked the intersections of Flinders and Swanston Streets in Melbourne.
Animal rights' protesters blocked the intersections of Flinders and Swanston Streets in Melbourne.

With animal activists protests causing disruption across three states on Monday, the time has come for state and federal governments to strengthen the protection of farmers, a peak body representing NSW farmers have said.

On Monday activists ran a series of coordinated protests to mark the one-year anniversary of the animal rights documentary Dominion.

In response to the escalating activity from animal activists, NSW Farmers president James Jackson would like the government to commit to new offences for trespassing.

"The Federal Government has taken a step forward on the privacy issue, now is the time for both the state and federal government to strengthen the protection of farms and strong penalties under the law including on the spot fines and criminal penalties," he said.

"NSW Farmers is urging the state government to press ahead with reforms to unauthorised landowner protection from unauthorised surveillance," he said.

Mr Jackson said people from all walks of life, including fellow vegans, rightly condemned these criminal activities as ill-informed, unfair and simply wrong.

"While there were disruptions to city traffic and some abbatoirs and stress placed on the farming community, the response to the protests has demonstrated overwhelming support for farming families and local food and fibre production," he said. 

Protesters blocked a major Melbourne intersection, while others targeted abattoirs and farms in NSW, Queensland and Victoria.

Mr Jackson said the targeted protests were extremely distressing to farmers and the whole regional community.

"These individuals are simply criminals, they have openly flouted the laws and are seeking to damage our farmers and the regional communities that rely on farming," he said of the protests.

"We acknowledge that people are entitled to their own views but illegally entering property is completely unacceptable. It risks human safety and animal welfare and the industry's biosecurity."

In January 2019, a controversial interactive map was released by Aussie Farms which implied that all of those listed on it were involved in animal cruelty.

Aussie Farms was also created by Dominion writer and director, Chris Delforce.

Many central west farms and even the Dubbo Taronga Western Plains Zoo were placed on the map.

The map allowed people to "submit information about facilities and upload photos, videos and documents relating to that facility".

Farmers expressed their concerns saying the map would just encourage unwanted, illegal behaviour.

After much media attention, there were calls for Aussie Farms to be stripped of its charity status and recently the Morrison government put the Aussie Farms website under privacy laws, exposing it to much tougher penalties for refusing to take down the map.

Mr Jackson said organisations that incite illegal activity must be ineligible for holding charitable status.

"Charities are for public good and these organisation do not support the welfare of the broader community - they act to disrupt and destroy," he said.

Animal welfare is the highest priority for farmers, Mr Jackson said.

"You do not become a farmer unless you have an affinity with animals and a commitment to high animal welfare standards," he said.

"Over 95 per cent of Australian farm businesses are family farmers with families living on their farms. Farmers are proud of the job they do - growing safe, high quality food and fibre."

This story Government needs to strengthen protection laws, farmers say first appeared on Western Magazine.