Since the Aussie Farms map went live in January the farming community have seen a dangerous rise in activist intrusions on agricultural properties, and the industry has had enough.
When animal rights activists illegally trespass on private agricultural properties, it’s not just farmers’ privacy that’s at risk. The biosecurity of our farms and the welfare of farmers’ livestock is also threatened.
Last week, a repeat trespasser James Warden received one third of the maximum fine following a two hour break-in to a Western Australian piggery, which he live-streamed on Facebook.
In the same week a Queensland court fined an activist $150 and no criminal record for her part in the 100 person raid on a piggery at Beerburrum last year.
This “peaceful” protest forced the piggery to go into lock down as 30 activists were inside the facility while another 70 gathered outside.
The day after that verdict was handed down, on Saturday 23 March, up to 100 activists trespassed onto a feedlot near Millmerran, Queensland, claiming to have sourced the farm details from the Aussie Farms activist map.
The protesters were forced to leave the property after Queensland police were called to the scene.
“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,” Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said.
This also follows a $1 fine for activists who stole a goat in Gippsland, Victoria, and a $200 fine for a second time offender who broke into a piggery on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
The penalty imposed on trespassers are nowhere near equivalent to the risk imposed on farming businesses and families according to National Farmers’ Federation’s (NFF) President Fiona Simson.
“Farmers are rightly alarmed that their farms can be invaded at the dead of night, streamed live on the internet, only for offenders to walk away with a slap on the wrist.
“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.
“Our legal system is to blame. It’s simply failing us,” she said.
The NFF have called for Federal leadership in strengthening the trespassing laws and penalties to protect Australian farmers.
Ms Simson emphasised that the industry welcomes transparency, and has nothing to hide.
“We’re as concerned as anyone about the disconnect between our farms and our end customers.
We’re proud of how we farm and love to show it off to those who are interested.
“I’d encourage you to visit a real farm, but do it safely and legally,” she said.
On Friday the 22 March, the NFF launched an online petition, which has already attracted more than 4,500 signatures, calling for Federal intervention.
“This issue is red hot among a farming community that is sick of seeing its privacy and property rights take a back seat to the activist’s agenda.
“Enough is enough, we need a solution to this yesterday,” Ms Simson said.