Community & Lifestyle

VFF Livestock leader opts for consumer slant on farm trespass issue

Terry Sim, March 25, 2019

VFF Livestock president Leonard Vallance makes a point about farm trespass at the St Arnaud Merino Gold update.

FARM trespass fines and penalties should be increased on behalf of consumers’ rights to good quality food without interference from animal activists, Victorian Farmers Federation Livestock president Leonard Vallance said today.

Mr Vallance through the VFF is leading a charge to lift fines and penalties for animal activists invading livestock farms following a $1 fine levied on activists who stole goat in Gippsland. He said farm trespass was a hot topic of discussion at Victoria’s Livestock Industry Consultative Council.

“We advised the minister (for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes) and agreed to write to the Attorney General and Premier and tell them that we want the judiciary to be informed about agriculture before passing sentences and so forth – we unanimously agreed to that.”

Mr Vallance said the recent court case in which an activist was fine $1 for stealing a goat was “a joke”, despite video evidence of the crime. He said a fine for recent sheep theft in northern Victoria was also “only a slap on the wrist.”

“Our concern now is that people now will have no faith in the judiciary and farmers might turn into vigilantes.

“If you are an honest person and the law doesn’t support you, what are your alternatives?”

He believed farming bodies in other states should also lobby their governments on the farm trespass fine issue and Australia’s consumers have a right to the food they demand – steak, bacon and lamb – as indicated by what they buy.

Mr Vallance said rather than fight activists as part of a ‘right to farm’ platform, he said consumers have a right to access good food and to be able to afford it.

“So the people need to sit back and say- ‘If I want good food and to be able to afford it, someone has to grow it for me, so I trust those people to grow my food, I don’t trust people overseas to grow it for me, therefore I need to look after the people who grow my food.

“The vegan movement is all about telling people how they have to live – you have to eat kale, you can’t have honey on your Brussel sprouts because you are enslaving bees, and you are not allowed to eat any meat,” he said.

“That’s telling you and I what sort of life we should lead – what gives them the right to do that?”

Victoria’s Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes said recent behaviour by rogue activists is disgraceful and puts farming families, animals and Australia’s biosecurity at risk.

“There is a clear line between freedom of speech and harassment, and it is clear activist groups like Aussie Farms are breaching that line.

“We’re giving police the powers and resources they need to enforce the law and keep farming communities – and every Victorian – safe.”

Pressure mounting on state governments

Pressure is mounting on state governments across Australia to increase fines and penalties for activists trespassing on farms, following recent incidents in Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria.

The issue has become a political football leading into the federal election, with the National Farmers Federation on Friday calling for federal leadership, and Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud responding a day later by calling for action by state governments.

At the St Arnaud Victorian Farmers Federation branch’s Merino Gold Update last Thursday, Mr Vallance said the VFF had managed to get National Party support for a state government an inquiry into farm trespass fines and penalties.

“So we can ramp up the fines for interfering with your business, which you carry out legally and legitimately in providing food and fibre for the people of the world.”

Last Friday, the NFF said a court ruling in WA should be a wakeup call for our politicians, as yet another farm intruder makes a joke of Australia’s soft trespass laws. On Friday in the Mandurah Magistrates Court in Western Australia, two animal activists from the group Direct Action Everywhere pleaded guilty to trespassing on a Pinjarra piggery. James Warden, 25, was fined $7000 and Katrina Sobianina was fined $3000.

However, the NFF said the court allowed Mr Warden to walk free with just one third of the maximum fine.

NFF Fiona Simson said the penalty sends a disturbing message to would-be intruders.

“Farmers are rightly alarmed that their farms can be invaded in the dead of night, streamed live on the internet, only for offenders to walk away with a slap on the wrist.

“We’re talking about private property, often a stones’ throw from family homes where farmers and their families are sleeping,” she said.

“This is not just a matter of basic privacy.

“These intruders are placing the biosecurity of our farms and the welfare of our livestock at risk.”

Need for the Federal Government to show leadership – NFF

Ms Simson said the WA court fine followed a $1 fine for activists who stole a goat in Gippsland in Victoria and a $200 fine for a piggery break-in by a second-time offender on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

“The law is clearly not keeping up with what’s happening here.”

The NFF called for all parties to commit to action on the issue in the led-up to the federal election.

“This is clearly a national issue, and warrants a decisive national response,” Ms Simson said.

“The Federal Government needs to show leadership, and get state and territory leaders in the room to design stronger laws.

“We’re seeking a commitment from all parties coming into the federal election that they will act decisively and protect our farms from these trespassers,” she said.

The NFF is also calling on people who share its concerns to sign an online petition at

Littleproud calls for action from state governments

On Saturday, Mr Littleproud demanded all state governments increase trespass laws and penalties after another animal activist invasion at Lemon Tree in his Queensland electorate, Maranoa.

Police were called when 100 animal activists invaded a feedlot and dairy, which is listed on the Aussie Farms activist attack map.

“States must create a serious penalty for trespassing on family farms.

“For police from surrounding towns to be called to protect farming families is a waste of resources, a broader public safety issue and an absolute disgrace,” he said.

Mr Littleproud said animal welfare groups have lost their social licence.

“They have no moral compass when they are prepared to intimidate innocent Australians and their actions taints their own cause.

“Aussie Farms can no longer pretend its map is anything but an attack map for activists, as I’ve been saying for months – this is the second invasion onto a property listed on their map in recent months,” he said.

“Nobody would like to see a stranger show up at their residence where their children live and I’m genuinely worried there will be a serious incident.

“We’ve seen utterly ridiculous penalties handed out to trespassing and thieving animal activists in the past few months.”

At the St Arnaud Victorian Farmers Federation branch’s Merino Gold Update last week, VFF Livestock president Leonard Vallance said the VFF had managed to get National Party support for a state government an inquiry into farm trespass fines and penalties.

“So we can ramp up the fines for interfering with your business, which you carry out legally and legitimately in providing food and fibre for the people of the world.”

Queensland’s AgForce joins call for increased penalties

Queensland’s AgForce today called for aggressive animal activists who illegally enter primary enterprises like feedlots and farms to be subject to the full force of the law, saying it was only a matter of time before one these dangerous stunts ended in serious injury or death.

AgForce chief executive officer Michael Guerin said that, far from the caring, peace-loving image these protestors like to portray, they are violent bullies who rely on, threats, intimidation and terror to push their radical agenda.

“Harsh words and condemnation mean nothing to the thugs perpetrating these acts,” Mr Guerin said.

“Peaceful protest is one thing, but trespassing onto someone else’s property, frightening children and animals, breaching biosecurity measures that are there to protect everyone – this is criminal activity we’re witnessing and it’s going unpunished.”

Mr Guerin said he respected a person’s right not to eat meat, but that shouldn’t extend to being able to commit acts of violence and terror against those who do, or against those who produce it. He added the recent fines handed out for trespassing onto family farms – $1 for the Gippy Goats invasion in Victoria, and $200 to a Sunshine Coast offender who trespassed at a piggery – made a mockery of the seriousness of the situation.

“Clearly these extremists don’t feel deterred. How could you with those sorts of fines?

“We need to get as serious about protecting the lives and livelihoods of the farmers who produce the food we eat every day as these terrorists are about terrifying them,” he said.

“Governments have to take steps now to put an end to this escalating action before it’s too late.”


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