Local farmers targeted by activist group

North East and Goulburn Murray producers under fire by Aussie Farms
North East & Goulburn-Murray Farmer
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ON THE MAP: A snapshot of the interactive map published online by Aussie Farms, which claims to be a listing of factory farms, slaughterhouses and other animal exploitation facilities across Australia – including more than 100 from the region.

THERE are concerns that more than 100 farms in the North East and Goulburn Murray region have had their location – and in some cases, contact details and photos – published on a new animal activist website.

Uploaded by Aussie Farms, the interactive map went live last month – with the group claiming it had taken eight years to compile and would “force transparency on an industry dependent on secrecy”.

Saying published farms were “factory farms, slaughterhouses and other animal exploitation facilities”, the map includes agriculture industries from across the region – dairy farms around Shepparton, broiler breeders at Bendigo, a piggery at Corryong and multiple trout farms out of Alexandra.

Even honey producers are not spared, with Beechworth and Avenel businesses both getting a listing on the map, as do horse studs across the North East, race courses – even the Merrijig rodeo grounds are listed as a potential site for “animal exploitation”.

Almost immediately after it went live Aussie Farms came under fire – with calls from the National Farmers Federation to take it down, and Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud, saying it was “irresponsible at best”.

“Putting the locations of farms online could be creating an attack map for activists,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Australia is a free country – you can choose not to eat meat, you can oppose livestock farming but it’s not ok to put the addresses of farming families, including children, online.

“The publication of home addresses is despicable – I won’t stand for it.”

One of those who know only too well about Aussie Farms is the CA Sinclair Abattoir in Benalla.

In April last year, 10 animal rights activists chained themselves to equipment in an attempt to “liberate” two calves.

Stock has also gone missing twice in the last year; one lot returned, the other incident is being investigated by local police.

An employee at the abattoir said they were more than aware of Aussie Farms.

On the map, under the information tab for the abattoir, there are nine videos, more than 130 photos and company details.

The CA Sinclair employee said that although the map should be taken down, Aussie Farms would “do what they want”.

“I think about lots of things that aren’t going to happen – and they aren’t going to do that (take it down), so I don’t get up in the morning and think about these people.”

Natasha Lobban is the president of the Wangaratta and District branch of the Victorian Farmers Federation, and said she thought the map “encouraged people to break the law”.

“Listing the addresses of farms across Australia is not the issue as far as I’m concerned – the issue is the insinuation that these farms are committing acts of animal cruelty, and that these businesses should be targeted by animal activists,” Ms Lobban said.

“Painting all these farms with the same brush (that they should be targeted) is unfair.”

Aussie Farms is a registered charity group, meaning they receive tax concessions.

However, as the momentum of public outrage built last month, Minister Littleproud promised to write to the Charities Commission, asking it to consider revoking the charity status of the group.

Minister Littleproud will also write to the Attorney General asking for him to consider whether the Information Commissioner can investigate if the publication of the addresses online breaches privacy rights.

“None of us would like it if our home address was put online,” Minister Littleproud said.

“These people don’t deserve charity status.”

More than 6000 farms across Australia have been uploaded to the map – with online tabs provided for those who wish to add more business locations, photos and videos.

More farming news and stories can be read in the February, 2019 print edition of North East & Goulburn-Murray Farmer or click here to access digital editions.