South West Coast MP Roma Britnell has launched a scathing attack on the charitable organisation that has marked many south-west properties as targets for animal activists.
She said the website launched by Aussie Farms, an animal activists group, is an assault on hard working farmers and directly accuses them as being places of animal exploitation.
“This is unfounded and defamatory to the families listed on the map. As a farmer, I also take it as a personal insult because I know that what they are saying could not be further from the truth in the vast majority of circumstances,” Mrs Britnell said.
“If this wasn’t so outrageous that people names have been publically listed in this way I wouldn’t give this any air time at all.
“Legislation is in place to ensure protection and the welfare of animals and processes are in place through the department. As an industry, we would never condone bad welfare practices and I was personally involved in policy development when involved in agri-politics prior to entering state parliament.
“I personally know many of the families whose farms have been listed on the map. They are not a factory farms, nor are they slaughterhouses nor do they exploit animals. Their animals are cared for 24 hours a day.
“It’s insulting to the hard work of farming families that these unfounded accusations are being levelled at hard working families.”
Mrs Britnell asked if farming families now had to live in fear of people invading their homes where their children play and they live their lives.
“For years farmers have invited people, including animal welfare groups, to come onto our farms. Every year the program ‘farm day’ existed, our family, and many others have welcomed people onto their farms to help educate them about what we do,”
Mrs Britnell asked how the group could get away with such defamatory and unfounded accusations against honest hard working people.
“I call on the farming advocacy bodies to explore legal action on behalf of the farmers who’s privacy has been invaded and who have had their reputations damaged by being marked as animal abusers,” she said.
Mrs Britnell said the people of Western Victoria could unfortunately expect more of this type of behaviour, with Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick now representing the region in the upper house.
“He’s already called for the dairy industry to be reduced and who knows what he will come up with next,” she said.
“Unlike Mr Meddick, I know and value the contribution of the agriculture sector not only to Western Victoria, but to the entire state. It keeps people in jobs and it makes sure there is food on the table and clothes on peoples back.
“I call on him and Labor’s Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes to condemn this website and to support families’ right to farm, free from harassment and unfounded accusations of cruelty.”