ANGRY farmers have told the RSPCA it doesn’t understand what is best for farm animals.
They want the organisation to keep away from farms and stick to the welfare of domestic pets.
Farmers spoke out at a parliamentary inquiry in the Australian state of Victoria amid fears the RSPCA has become more of an activist group than a regulatory body.
The Victorian Farmers Federation told the inquiry the undisputed authority to regulate commercial farming zones needed to stay with the State Government through Agriculture Victoria.
It wants the State Government to act swiftly to stop animal activist groups from seizing the power to police farm practice and has urged the Government to sign into law a provision that would give Agriculture Victoria the undisputed authority.
“The State Government is getting closer to unveiling its Animal Action Plan, and this is a perfect opportunity for the Government to give Agriculture Victoria the definitive authority to regulate livestock under legislation,” VFF President David Jochinke said.“RSPCA Victoria does a fine job protecting and investigating cruelty towards domestic animals, but that role shouldn’t extend to farm animals.“The feedback we’ve received from farmers is that RSPCA inspectors are aggressive, demanding, and less willing to work with farmers to improve animal welfare.”
Mr Jochinke said the RSPCA’s history of activist campaigning against commercial farming, had led to an increasingly strained relationship with farmers.
Appearing before the committee, VFF Egg Group Vice President Brian Ahmed said the Victorian agriculture sector used voluntary animal welfare programmes and that farmers weren’t being given credit.
He said: “It is in a farmer’s best interest to ensure we have strict animal welfare practices in place, because we’re trying to run businesses and our livelihoods depend on it.”“We get a lot of pleasure out of producing food and feeding people, but our jobs are complicated when the RSPCA is constantly walking onto our farms, judging our processes and accusing us of being cruel when we’re following certified animal welfare guidelines.”
Mr Ahmed said the strained relationship between farmers and the RSPCA stemmed from campaigns the animal welfare group ran against several agricultural industries, including the live export and caged egg industries.
“The situation we have at the moment is that the RSPCA is confused about the role they want to play – do they want to be regulators or do they want to be activists? They can’t be both,” he added.“It is absolute hypocrisy to attack legal industries and actively campaign to shut down industries that aren’t cruel by the RSPCA’s own standards.”
VFF Livestock President Leonard Vallance, appearing alongside Mr Ahmed before the inquiry, said the livestock industries paid $7 million through the research body Meat and Livestock Australia to investigate the best animal health and welfare practices.
“Australia is the only country where producers pay directly to an industry funded body to get animal welfare outcomes and it’s something that makes our farmers proud,” he said.“But animals that are reared for productive purposes will always have different lives to animals that sit on a couch and watch television with you.“Too many RSPCA inspectors don’t understand the difference between domestic and productive animals and it leads to unfair and inaccurate allegations against farmers who are doing the right thing.”