AUSTRALIA - Victoria's peak farm lobby has warned the State Government needs to act swiftly to stop animal activist groups from seizing the power to police farm practice, in its submission to a parliamentary inquiry into the Victorian branch of the RSPCA.
The Victorian Farmers Federation has urged the Government to sign into law a provision that would give Agriculture Victoria the undisputed authority to regulate commercial farming zones and confine the RSPCA to watching over domestic animals.
“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 chalked this attitude up to the RSPCA’s history of activist campaigning against commercial farming, which has led to an increasingly strained relationship with the farm sector.
RSPCA Victoria earlier this year pledged to cease all activism following an internal review of its operations, but Mr Jochinke flagged concerns the group was circumventing this commitment by using the national RSPCA to campaign on its behalf.
“There is a clear conflict of interest when you have RSPCA Australia actively campaigning against farming practices while RSPCA Victoria is being used to regulate the law for farms,” he said.
“RSPCA Victoria wants to be taken seriously as a regulator, so they have agreed to give up their activism, but their website still promotes campaigns by their national body to shut down the live export trade and to end the legal sport of duck hunting.
“This is clear proof that the Victorian branch is relying on the national branch to do its campaigning, and this is unacceptable for the farming community.”
Mr Jochinke said farmers cared about their animals’ welfare and the State Government needed to recognise the good work of the agriculture sector.
“Farmers recognise that to get quality produce from their animals they need to provide good care of their animals and as such many have undertaken their industries relevant quality assurance program,” he said.
A copy of the VFF’s submission to the inquiry can be found here.
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