Lamb Production

Vic farmers protest animal welfare committee snub

Sheep Central, December 7, 2015
VFF Livestock president Ian Feldtmann

VFF Livestock president Ian Feldtmann

VICTORIAN livestock farmers have protested at the lack of producer representation on the recently appointed state Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, while Animals Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes gained a seat.

Victorian Farmer’s Federation Livestock Group president Ian Feldtmann said the State government appointed advisory committee lacked extensive livestock industry experience, and is too heavily weighted to “animal rights”.

“There is a glaring omission of the extensive livestock production industry and no balance in the committee make-up.

“The appointment of Glenys Oogjes, executive director of Animals Australia, is our biggest concern,” he said.

Mr Feldtmann said previous committees had broadacre livestock industry representation, but the new committee’s makeup indicated the Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford had no confidence in the ability of farmers to sit on the committee.

“There is a stark difference between animal welfare and animal rights and in the case of Animals Australia they have neither at their heart,” he said.

“Let’s not forget this advisory council is supposed to be about supporting best practice across animal industries.

“We believe there should be a key role for farmers, with on-the-ground experience to assist,” Mr Feldtmann said.

The new committee’s members include:

Mrs Carmel Morfuni (Independent Chair) – Barrister at Law, nationally accredited mediator.

Dr David Beggs – veterinarian with livestock, animal science and public policy expertise.

Ms Glenys Oogjes – extensive animal welfare, behaviour and science expertise, Executive Director of Animals Australia.

Prof Paul Hemsworth – prominent animal welfare scientist, director and professor of the Animal Welfare Science Centre.

Dr Michelle Ledger – veterinarian with equine and animal ethics expertise, Veterinary Services and Equine Welfare Manager at Racing Victoria.

Dr Patricia Mitchell – agricultural scientist with commercial animal industries and livestock expertise, Research & Innovation Manager at Australian Pork Limited.

Dr Elizabeth Walker – veterinarian with animal welfare and domestic animal expertise, Chief Executive Officer of RSPCA Victoria.

Dr Rebecca Wilcox – veterinarian with wildlife and animal science and research expertise, Senior Animal Welfare Officer at RMIT.

Dr Scott Williams – private veterinary consultant with livestock and research expertise.

Victoria's Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford

Victoria’s Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford

The new committee met on December 1 and a statement from Ms Pulford said its role has been revised to help provide strategic advice on improving animal welfare in Victoria.

“The committee has a great range of practical experience in managing welfare issues across the animal industries.

“I think this government has demonstrated a strong desire to raise the bar when it comes to animal welfare and I need the best expert advice possible to help me implement improvements,” she said.

VFF says it takes animal welfare seriously

Mr Feldtmann said the appointment of Animals Australia on the council simply raises more questions than answers.

“The RSCPA is a legitimate animal welfare group whose priority is the wellbeing of animals.

“On the other hand, Animals Australia are simply an extreme activist group whose intention is to ensure the farming of animals ceases at all costs,” he said.

“The VFF take animal welfare absolutely seriously and are working with key bodies such as RSPCA and the Department of Economic Development Jobs Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) to ensure farmers always do the right thing.”

Ms Pulford’s office said the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee is a non-statutory expert committee constituted by the Minister for Agriculture to provide advice on animal welfare related issues. Members are appointed based on expertise in animal welfare and experience across a range of animal species and industries.

Ms Pulford’s office has failed to respond to Sheep Central questions on why and how the committee’s role has been revised.

Sources: VFF and Minister for Agriculture.


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  1. Glenys Oogjes is just one person on this committee. It seems nothing has happened yet, so why the noise? Surely the other committee members will provide balance and wouldn’t it be better to judge the committee on their performance rather than one person’s prejudice?
    Meanwhile, I think the question should be… another committee doing a job that has surely been done and is repeated in other states and nationally and with organisations like MLA… couldn’t we be spending time and money better? Full names required in future for reader comments please Ann, as per our long-standing comments policy: Editor

  2. Katrina Love, December 7, 2015

    God forbid they should have someone on the committee who is actually representing the animals’ best interests. There is nothing at all extreme about Animals Australia – an animal protection organisation that promotes and strives for a kinder world for animals. You can hardly do that whilst advocating for their slaughter and consumption.

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