Time to act against animal activists, says VFF

Sheep Central, June 20, 2014

Victorian livestock producers are demanding the Victorian State Government implement an election promise to curb animal activists’ attacks on farms.

During the 2010 State election campaign the Coalition promised to “ensure that adequate legislation exists to protect all food producers from unreasonable attacks by extremist animal rights lobbyists”.

VFF livestock president Ian Feldtmann said the VFF had twice written to the Victorian Attorney General Robert Clark requesting the government deliver on its 2010 Election promise.

“All we’ve had so far is ‘reassurances’ that action is being taken,” Mr Feldtmann said.

“And I notice this week Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said it’s ‘a work in progress’.”

“But here we are, with just 18 sitting days left until the 2014 State Election and there’s no legislation on the table. We need to see the detail.”

Mr Feldtmann said farmers had taken action in the past against animal activists, but it had cost them years in the courts and vast sums in legal fees.

“No-one should doubt farmers’ determination to make animal activists accountable for their actions,” he said. “You only have to look at our efforts in pursuing the Hahnheuser case.

In 2003 animal activist Ralph Hahnheuser delayed the shipment of live sheep from Portland to the Middle East by contaminating their feed and water with shredded ham.

The VFF lodged an Australian Farmers’ Fighting Fund application to pursue Mr Hahnheuser through the courts, which involved an unsuccessful trial in the Federal Court, a subsequent successful appeal to the full Federal Court, and a successful re-trial in which Mr Hahnheuser was ordered to pay damages and costs.

Ultimately Mr Hahnheuser became bankrupt upon filing his own debtor’s petition on March 6 this year, 11 years after contaminating the feedlot.

It was a landmark case, but cost us dearly in time and money. It’s the very reason we need stronger state and federal legislation to protect us against activists.

Source: VFF


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  1. Orlando Browning, June 23, 2014

    I know the Australian people are becoming increasingly aware of animal cruelty in the rural sector. My family have been involved in agriculture for three generations. Until the last 20 odd years I had not witnessed animal abuse. The industry has changed and more and more I see mistreatment in sale yards, piggeries, and slaughter houses. We should all be held accountable for our actions, I agree. However, why not work towards eliminating animal abuse, instead of blaming animal activists. CCTV in all animal facilities, slaughter houses etc. If there is nothing to hide, then, CCTV should be welcomed by those who are responsible for animal welfare. There are two sides to this story and the animal activists deserve to be heard, as well as those involved in agriculture. Where there is no shame, there is nothing to hide. I am on the side of the rural sector, however, I am not turning my back on the truth that animal cruelty does exist and it is up to us all to take responsibility. Denying it is happening will not solve the issue.
    The Live export industry is a classic example of abuse on a momentous scale. My sons and I would never export our cattle to some of the most barbaric slaughter houses in the world. We are proud of our animals. We would never allow abuse.

  2. Tim Perrett, June 21, 2014

    Orlando may be correct, saying people should be held accountable for their actions.So should people implementing false accusations against others,especially through media outlets.
    As a grazier I have recollection for 40 years in the industry and can say up front (not hiding) that I’ve never witnessed animal cruelty at home, in saleyards or at the abattoirs, and I very much doubt Orlando has either.
    I also believe the Australian people are becoming aware of the damage these radical activists do to industry and justice will prevail in due coarse.

  3. Ben Hammer, June 20, 2014

    Orlando Browning, the article refers to the attacks on the farming operations of Australians, in Australia, by none other than supposed well meaning people. In particular the sabotage of animals feed and water. This was proven in a court of law to have been perpetrated by an “Animal Rights Activist”. How can someone pertaining to be “for the animals” and “against cruelty” deliberately contaminate the very feedstuffs and clean water supply of the very animals they wish to protect? Where can they justify deliberately poisoning any animals food in order to protect these animals from cruelty? By his actions, this man actually inflicted suffering upon the sheep. Anyone stop to consider that? There are more stories, in print, of “animal rights activists”, illegally entering farming enterprises during the night, using flash lit photography to obtain “evidence” only to have the same bright and sudden flash of light startle and cause panic amongst the animals within the facility. These animals then ‘rushed’ in fright, the sheer weight of panicked bodies smashing the facilities they were housed within. How many animals required veterinary treatment or destruction as the direct result of the trespassers actions? If the “animal rights activists” really cared about the animals, they would never be so blatantly stupid as to cause injury or suffering to these same animals.
    And just in case you were not aware, farmers ARE ACCOUNTABLE for the welfare of their animals. It seems the only smoke to be seen with this issue is from fires lit by the animal rights activists themselves, fires which endanger the health and wellbeing of the animals themselves.

  4. Orlando Browning, June 20, 2014

    Farmers should be held accountable for the welfare of their animals, including, the abattoirs in which their animas are slaughtered. CCTV in all slaughter houses is an effective way to implement high animal welfare standards. We all know where there is no smoke there is no fire. It seems animal cruelty is an issue in the agricultural sector, if not, why are the farmers, the Nationals and the Agricultural Ministers, both state and Federal, running scared. What do they have to hide? The Australian public would like to know.

  5. Transparency please VFF, June 20, 2014

    Seems the ag sector is very worried about being exposed. As they should be. The public demand to know about the welfare of the animals they eat..and all we hear from the industry is how the truth about the suffering is being exposed. How about you clean it up? How about getting the pigs out of the hell holes you call ‘farms’ and allowing the facilities to be inspected by advocates? How about telling the truth about how animals live in filth and misery only to die ensduring even more cruelty?

    Legislating against the exposure of the truth isnt going to help you, neither is calling people who care about welfare extremists. We could call farmers who are routinely keeping pigs in dire conditions extremists..appears they are.

    About time the VFF stopped moaning and whinging and cleaned up the farmers instead of trying to protect abuses.

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