Australia’s deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has blasted animal rights activists behind the Aussie Farms website and ‘farm-shaming map’, saying they should be ashamed of themselves for demonising hard working Australian farmers to suit a vegan agenda, and increasing the risk of serious biosecurity incursions by encouraging trespass.
Mr McCormack has backed calls by the NFF for the Aussie Farm group’s status as a charity to be revoked, and has pledged to take the case to the Assistant Minister for Treasury and Finance to have the group responsible deregistered.
The National Farmers Federation says it has been contacted by a number of farmers included on the map who are distressed that their name has incorrectly been linked to animal cruelty.
“They are extremely anxious and very angry that their workplace, and their home, has become the target of extreme and dangerous activities,” NFF president Fiona Simson said.
The NFF has also released advice on how farmers who find their farms on the map should respond (see below).
In a strongly worded statement provided to Beef Central Mr McCormack – the Federal Member for Riverina, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and Leader of The Nationals – said the group responsible ‘should be ashamed’
“Those responsible for publishing private details and information of farmers on the internet – to try to identify Australian farming operations as part of an animal rights campaign aimed at banning and demonising livestock farming – should be ashamed of themselves,” he said.
“The vast majority of Australian farms are family-owned and operated and they deserve our respect and understanding for their hard work and sacrifices, rather than suffering ongoing moral harassment and vilification as part of an extremist campaign designed to try to pressure politicians into changing laws, to suit a vegan agenda,” he said.
“I agree with the National Farmers Federations’ view that the charitable status of the group responsible for this reprehensible act should be retracted by the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission.
“The group’s business model is anything but charitable and the irresponsible publication of this map is purely designed to encourage potential attacks by animal rights activists.
‘the irresponsible publication of this map is purely designed to encourage potential attacks by animal rights activists’
“Facebook should also take responsibility and remove the map immediately because it serves no purpose other than to increase animal suffering and exposure to harm.
“Unauthorised entry onto farms and livestock facilities – when animal rights vigilantes, with no knowledge of animal husbandry, take the law into their own hands – creates significant risk of biosecurity exposure; including those located on farming properties and facilities in the Riverina.”
The potential for trespassers to expose farms and farm animals to biosecurity risks was also a very real threat, he said.
“A foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in the United Kingdom in 2001 caused losses of more than $19 billion and current estimates by Australian agricultural experts estimate a large 12-month outbreak of the highly contagious animal disease would cost $16 billion.
“This type of needless economic devastation, due to the ignorant actions of animal rights activists, is the last thing Australian farmers need – especially those battling escalating drought conditions.
“Our farmers produce high quality food and fibre at affordable prices through their hard work but this type of extremist campaigning only serves to add pressures and business costs such as added security, which leads to increased food prices.
“The video footage and images linked to this type of campaigning is mostly gathered and published anonymously by activists who prefer to hide in the dark and spread misinformation, instead of putting in an honest day’s work on-farm where real animal welfare happens.
“They’ve probably never worked a hard day in their life. They don’t understand where their food and fibre comes from.
“I’m growing tired of people bashing up farmers. If it’s not this mob, it’s allegations that cash is being paid to stop live animal exports. The actions of Aussie Farms and these people prepared to pay cash for cruelty are un-Australian.
“I have spoken to the Federal Minister for Agriculture about this issue and join him in condemning this group’s actions and support farm groups nation-wide in calling out these despicable actions for what they are.”
Formal complaint to charity commission
Mr McCormack encouraged ‘anyone with a similar view on the uncharitable nature of this attack” to register their concerns by making a formal complaint with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.
“I will be putting my views to the Assistant Minister for Treasury and Finance about deregistering the group responsible.
“Any incidence of trespassing as a result of these irresponsible actions should be investigated by the proper authorities, including biosecurity agencies.
“These activities are criminal and those caught should be given the maximum penalty applicable by the law.”
“I also back Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud in calling on State Governments to review and beef up trespass laws following this scandal to protect farmers and their families.”
The stated core value of the group Aussie Farms according to its website is a belief that animals should not be owned for any human purposes, including for primary production or pet ownership.
The NFF says the map published this week contains the details of hundreds of farmers and implies a connection to animal cruelty, urging people to gather images, videos and other documents in relation to the addresses revealed.
Promoted via Facebook, readers of the map are encouraged to upload imagery and documents from each address, likely to be obtained by covert and possibly illegal methods.
“Farmers’ privacy, their right to farm and most disturbingly, their safety and that of their families and animals, are at risk,” National Farmers’ Federation’s President Fiona Simson.
Aussie Farms, a registered charity, has been linked to a number of trespass incidents, including an incident in December where 55 protesters forced their way into an abattoir in Nhill, Victoria.
“Their agenda is simple and straightforward: they want to see an end to farms, and that means an end to many farmers and the contribution they make,” Ms Simson said.
What if your property is on the map?
If your property is shown on the Farm Map the NFF says there are steps you can take to protect your privacy.
The national farming body recommends following 3 steps:
- CHECK if your name and address features on the ‘Aussie Farms’ map. To view the Map, click here.
- REQUEST directly for Aussie Farms to remove your details. For Aussie Farms’ contact details, click here.
- COMPLAIN formally to the Australian Information Commissioner. To lodge a complaint, click here.
The NFF says it is hopeful that if the Commissioner receives enough complaints, action might be taken.
The NFF is also encouraing people, if they find images or other media linked to their property that may be the result of trespassing by activists, to refer the page to the police, via Crime Stoppers.
Beef Central has contacted the Aussie Farms group for comment but had not received a reply at the time of publishing today’s daily news email.
Sources: Deputy Prime Minister, National Farmers Federation