March 18, 2013
Animal activists have risked maiming an egg producer, his family and workers by shoving broken glass into gumboots as part of a recent raid on his farm. During the raid on a VFF member’s Mornington Peninsula egg farm, activists left their calling card in the form of pieces of broken bottle dumped into a row of gumboots outside the shed. “I knew they’d been in (to the shed)” the producer said. “’Cause they’d jimmied the lock, so they could get in to take footage and I had lots of smashed eggs ‘cause the birds went beserk.” VFF Egg president Brian Ahmed said farmers faced a growing plague of rogue activists who broke into barns, destroying facilities and sabotaging equipment. “It not only risks the health and safety of farmers, their families and workers, it also puts the very animals theses activists seek to protect at risk,” Mr Ahmed said. During the 2010 Victorian election campaign, the coalition promised it would: “ensure that adequate legislation exists to protect all food producers from unreasonable attacks by extremist animal rights lobbyists.” More than 300 delegates at last year’s VFF Conference called on the Victorian Government to pass legislation protecting farmers against the economic damage caused by animal activists. In July last year the VFF wrote to Victorian Attorney General Robert Clark seeking State government support to protect food producers from malicious vandalism, something which has already been implemented in the United States. Mr Clark wrote back in mid-September stating the government was “committed to ensuring adequate legislation exists to protect food producers from unlawful actions”. The minister’s letter went on to state: “The Department of Justice, in consultation with DPI, is already considering existing legislation, including trespass provisions, for that purpose. I have asked that the department also consider the appropriateness of the United States legislation that you referred to in your letter”. But as recently as last week the VFF was told by DPI that an advisory group was still being formed to examine the issue. “It’s not good enough,” Mr Ahmed said. “We need action now.” The US has adopted the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act that prohibits any person engaging in unlawful conduct that is “for the purpose of damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise.” The US legislation has penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment for offences causing more than $1m in damages and restitution would be: (1) For the reasonable cost of repeating any experimentation that was interrupted or invalidated as a result of the offense; (2) For the loss of food production or farm income reasonably attributable to the offense; and (3) For any other economic damage, including any losses or costs caused by economic disruption, resulting from the offense.