Australia’s national farming body and agriculture minister have spoken out angrily against the launch of a new ‘farm shaming website’ on social media today.
National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson described the move as a malicious social media campaign run by an extreme anti-farm group.
“According to their website, Aussie Farms’ ‘core value’ is a belief that animals should not be owned for human purposes,’ an NFF statement released this afternoon said.
The Facebook page links to a map with the details of hundreds of farmers implying a connection to animal cruelty and urging people to gather images, videos and other documents in relation to the addresses revealed.
Ms Simson said the implications could be dire and has demanded Facebook close the page promoting the map immediately and for the group to be stripped of its charity status.
“Farmers’ privacy, their right to farm and most disturbingly, their safety and that of their families and animals, are at risk.
“Australian farmers have had enough and we will not stand by and watch attempts to destroy farms, families and rural communities.”
Ms Simson said the NFF had fielded calls from farmers who had been included on the map, in some instances who were represented as running businesses that in fact, they do not.
“They are rightly 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,” Ms Simson said.
Aussie Farms, unbelievably, 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.
The map comes only days after the ‘dark arts’ of Animals Australia were revealed with allegations the group paid ship workers to capture footage aboard live export vessels.
“Almost every day, we’re seeing examples of activists accessing farms and businesses without permission, seeking to disrupt the work our farmers do.
“These types of stunts risk human and animal well-being and are deeply offensive.
“The presence of unapproved people in farm environments has the potential to spread bacteria and disease which could impact the whole food chain, not to mention the trade implications.
“It’s also important to remember that farms are also family homes.”
Ms Simson said the NFF had called on Facebook to take the page down immediately.
“If the page is not taken down today, we seek a meeting with Facebook’s Australian representatives to discuss.
‘The charitable status of the group must be retracted by the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission. Their business model is to openly flout Australia’s laws to undermine farming and agriculture in Australia.
“We have today spoken with, both the Minister and Shadow Minister for Agriculture, who have condemned the group’s behaviours and objectives.
“I will also write to the Police in each state and territory, alerting them to the ‘library’ of imagery on the Aussie Farms website, questioning how the material was collected.”
Ms Simson said the NFF is seeking legal counsel on the implied link the map makes to the farmers represented and animal cruelty; and in regards to any potential infringement of privacy and trespass laws.
“As a matter of priority, we will be advocating for laws that guarantee farmers’ freedom to farm. Laws that carry harsh penalties for those that seek to impede this freedom,” Ms Simson said.
Farm shaming website despicable: Littleproud
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud has called out the Aussie Farms Map as an anonymous farm shaming website with no real outcomes for animal welfare.
“This website is irresponsible at best,” Minister Littleproud said.
“Putting the locations of farms online could be creating an attack map for activists. This will potentially result in illegal behaviour by activists.
“Farms are people’s homes, not just their businesses. Some farmers have already complained the website claims they run businesses which they do not.
“Further, we don’t know if the footage posted on this website is actually from the farm it is attributed to. Content such as graphic images or video can be uploaded and attached to any farm by anonymous users.
“This potentially encourages activists to trespass and worse after being misled about the practices on that farm. Trespass also has the potential to cause significant bio-security issues that ironically could lead to the death of the animal.
The website, run by charity Aussie Farms, lacks official checks and balances and has a clear agenda.
“Australian producers are some of the cleanest and greenest in the world, are proud of the work they do and are a key pillar of the Australian economy.
“Our farmers play an important role in feeding and clothing people across the world. They deserve to be thanked, not have their addresses published and possible be harassed in their own homes.”