Radical views “an attack on regions”

What type of society are we becoming if small businesses including farms are prevented from doing what they do best by the (often illegal) actions of a radical minority?

Minorities that are so extreme they do not believe in pets, guide dogs or aquariums – let alone animal production for human consumption.

Stunts last week by radical extremists including an invasion and resulting sit-in at a Goulburn meat processor, are becoming all too common. Over the weekend, in Yarragon, Victoria, the Gippy Goat Café, which used milk produced from its own herd of goats, was forced to close its doors due to ongoing threats from out-of-touch and frankly, out-of-line radicals. 

Recently, no less than 100 people shouted unbelievable profanities and accusations of cruelty at a farmer as they blindsided him on a Sunday invasion of his south Queensland feedlot.       

Farms are also homes, where often children reside and right now farming families across Australia are on edge. Particularly in the lead up to these all-to-often, so-called national days of action, like what we saw yesterday.

NFF CEO Tony Mahar

Many of the farmers I talk to are also frustrated. They want these ‘green collared criminals’ as our Prime Minister dubbed them, brought to account with the full force of the law. Held to account with appropriate fines and blights on their records.  Not sent on their merry way with a slap on the wrist and insultingly small fine sometimes as mere as $1!  After all, invading a cattle farm in Gunnedah, is not different to storming a Surry Hills restaurant.

Farmers certainly do not expect that the ringleaders of these actions should be enjoying the tax-payer funded luxury of charity status, as extremist group Aussie Farms does. The NFF continues to call on the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission to strip Aussie Farms of its charity status. To date we have not seen any action on this front.

Farmers also want to tell their story of what they do, how they do it and why they do it! In the face of drought and for some, floods, Australian farmers have a great story to tell.

Our farmers are world-leaders in the way they go about growing food and fibre. We deploy best-practice animal welfare. We take meeting community’s exceptions very seriously. We will continue to improve and evolve as expectations shift and where we are found lacking, we’ll take steps to improve immediately. We’ll gladly show any Australian around our property, if they respect our right to grant entry first.

The National Farmers’ Federation represents all farmers – from beef producers, broccoli growers to beekeepers. If you grow something to sustain mankind, we’re with you. We therefore logically support people eating a diet of whatever they choose: plant-based, dairy-free, gluten-free and, yes meat – be it red, pink or white!

Farmers are not opposed to peaceful protest – we live in a wonderful democracy, where largely everybody’s views are welcome. But, there is a clear line between free speech and advocacy and criminal activity. Too often, we’re seeing that line infringed. What these individuals don’t understand is that their unauthorised entry to our farm is compromising biosecurity and ultimately the welfare of the very animals they purport to be protecting.

We’re calling on the community to help us change the dial and to restore decency to activism by signing a petition demanding Government action at farmers.org.au If we let stunts like yesterday’s go unfettered – society as we know it, is on a slippery slope.

This article can also be found in The Australian.

Tony Mahar

Tony Mahar

Tony Mahar is the Chief Executive of the National Farmers' Federation.

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