Ac­tivist RSPCA needs to stay off farms

Dairy News Australia - - OPINION -

THE RSPCA can­not reg­u­late the farm sec­tor while it con­tin­ues to lobby against the very in­dus­tries it wants to po­lice.

The Vic­to­rian Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion told a par­lia­men­tary in­quiry into the an­i­mal wel­fare group last month that the undis­puted author­ity to reg­u­late com­mer­cial farm­ing zones needed to stay with the State Gov­ern­ment through Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria, while the RSPCA should stick to watch­ing over house­hold pets.

Ap­pear­ing be­fore the com­mit­tee, VFF Egg Group Vice Pres­i­dent Brian Ahmed said the Vic­to­rian agri­cul­ture sec­tor ap­plied vol­un­tary qual­ity as­sur­ance pro­grams, but farm­ers weren’t be­ing given due credit for main­tain­ing an out­stand­ing level of an­i­mal wel­fare.

“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,” Mr Ahmed said.

“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 said.

“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.”

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