My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Agriculture in the other place, and the action I seek is a government-backed campaign so the community can be confident in what farmers do to protect the environment and care for animals. Many members may not be aware, but late last month animal activist group Aussie Farms launched an interactive map which listed the addresses of farms right across the country, with many in my own electorate. This map insinuates that farms listed are participating in animal cruelty and are intensive factory farms. These claims are baseless, defamatory and a disgusting attempt from this group to push their anti-farming agenda. The website encourages people to go onto farms and take footage and photos of what they see.
Farms are not just businesses; they are people’s homes, and many families I have spoken to now feel threatened and unsafe in their own homes, not knowing when or if animal activists will show up on their property. Activists entering properties uninvited also pose a huge biosecurity risk. There are strict parameters in place to stop the spread of disease. If those parameters are not adhered to, animals could become sick and die, the industry would be crippled and the economy would take an enormous hit in terms of lost production.
We need to be proactive and talk about the good farming does, not only for the economy but also for the environment, and what farmers do to care for their animals before the activists achieve their goal of stopping farming. Environmental and animal activists are capitalising on the city-country divide, and they use this to their advantage. A government awareness campaign is needed now to help bridge that disconnect and make sure the truth is being told.
A key role of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is to enable agriculture. Government has a part to play in showing the good things farms do for our environment, which will in turn counter the negatives being pushed by a noisy minority. Sections of the community are very vocal, so it is time to tell the truth about how farms operate and work to look after and improve the landscape, be it via working to minimise erosion, managing the infestation of weeds or pests or planting areas for native animals to live. The community also needs to know there are strict legislative parameters in place and that if farmers do wrong there are consequences.
Activists say farmers treat animals cruelly, but in reality the vast majority of farmers I know spend more time and money caring for their animals than they do for themselves. Unless there is a positive campaign with a solid framework supported by government, the vocal minority will win and the benefits of producing quality food for people will be lost.