Thursday, June 6, 2013

Farmers fighting for the industry and animal welfare

GUEST BLOG by Lee-Anne Bright
Lee-Anne's family have lived on a goat property in Western NSW for 3 generations.  Many parts of her family are farmers across Australia.  Lee-Anne is a full time governess and in her spare time runs a website called Governess Australia. She can be followed on Twitter @Bushgovo 
WARNING HIJACKED BLOG: “Thanks to Outback Girl for allowing me to hijack her blog for this issue.  Cheers, Lee-Anne Bright at Governess Australia

NO species on earth has the same requirements or physical and mental structure. 


Animals Australia

Issues in farming are hot topics at the moment especially if Animals Australia (AA) is involved. 

I think AA’s aim of animal protection is admirable - but I am concerned that history shows this is not actually their priority.  I am all for animal welfare and do a lot of work together with others in the farming community to improve our practises.  

BUT… AA is a political lobby group not an animal welfare organisation.  It doesn’t work on the ground like RSPCA and other organisations.   

AA’s motivation comes across as animal rights and the "vegan agenda" not animal welfare.  I don’t like my RIGHTS being taken away and being abused for my choice.  I don’t like the vegan agenda SHOVED abusively by AA supporters in my face.  

On the subject of vegetarianism and veganism, I have no problems with people making that personal choice.  That as a human being is their right.  I also have the right not to eat tuna and peas which I abhor.  I have friends who are vegetarians and often cook vegetarian meals which I at times enjoy. 

I don’t know if AA intended to ever be portrayed like this and I don’t think farmers will ever trust their motives again.

I see many prejudiced comments on both sides of the vegan fence.  I don’t think it does either side any good  though to generalise comments about peoples eating choices.  

Isn’t the argument supposed to be animal welfare?

Export Debate
The live export debate and the government’s knee jerk reaction (another conversation altogether) to the issue proved to be a disaster for the beef industry. 

  • Countless properties that live export have been sold, with even bigger companies having to sell off and consolidate.
  • Farmer suicide and depression has increased. 
  • Cattle prices have fallen so much that it costs to send them to market. 
  • The drought has hit northern Australia which is still carrying more stock than normal.
Some good blogs for export understanding and farming issues today:

Factory Farming from AA Community

The following information was found on the AA website and through links from there.

Factory farming facts quote from AA website 
  1. Factory farming has been so well hidden, that the straight-up facts can be unexpected and shocking. If you spot something that's new to you — retweet it!
  2. Factory farming is the #1 cause of animal cruelty today. You can help end it.
  3. It's legal to cut bits and pieces off conscious animals in factory farms... without pain relief.
  4. A battery hen's world is the size of an A4 piece of paper. Help free hens from factory farms!
  5. Chickens naturally live up to 12yrs. Chickens bred for meat live only 6wks. End factory farming!
  6. For every cage egg on a supermarket shelf a hen endured 30hrs of misery. End factory farming!
  7. The EU has banned battery cages. Aus has not. But we don't need to wait for govt to end this cruelty!
  8. It's legal in most of Aus to cage a mother pig so she can't turn around, for MONTHS. We can end this!
  9. Factory farming contributes to pollution, deforestation & climate change. End factory farming!
  10. Factory farms generate the waste of a small city, with the pollution threatening people, fish & earth
  11. Factory farms are food factories in reverse. They use more food than they produce. End the waste.
The other issues listed

I am not going to talk about all the fact sheets as I really just want to highlight their agenda.

Some of the issues highlighted I agree need to be phased out or improved with good reason. 

One example of this is animal testing of household products and cosmetics.  There are many natural cosmetics and household products.  We really should get away from using chemicals.

I could go through and give another viewpoint for many of these issues but I won’t in this blog.  I don’t have the time as I work a full time job and run a business.

Coles enters

When Coles decided to sell AA bags the farming community went into uproar.  NOT because they didn’t care about the issue but because AA was politically lobbying but not actively working with the industry and animals on a broader scale. 

FARMERS were suspicious of their motives and didn’t want a repeat of the live export disaster.  The impacts on farming and international relations are still being felt.

“Decided today to comment on the COLES and Animals Australia Make it happen.

Check out my thoughts....

No longer support Coles until they do the RIGHT thing by farmers and animals.

Animals Australia left the live export industry with suiciding farmers, dying and starving animals, and an overseas country with no one educating them in animal welfare.

Australia has the best standards in the WORLD because FARMERS work to achieve.

I don't believe in cruelty to animals... no one does ... but I care and work to achieve good animal welfare and industry welfare”

“Just a suggestion to Coles ... removing posts does not change consumers (and farmers) minds or make you be seen in a better light by the public. In fact is does the OPPOSITE. What happens is the campaign goes NATIONAL and moves onto other pages where you have no control or no idea what Australians want.

I bet you wish you didn't enter this debate.... maybe next time get your lawyers and brains trust to do a THOROUGH research of the issue so you are better informed.

HECK even the government knows that LIVE EXPORT is a hot topic where no one can win against the other side.

I believe Animals Australia is a vegan lobbying movement and that means that half of what you stock on your shelves goes against their beliefs.

I have no problems with people having the right to CHOOSE but so do I. I have the right to be support farmers and eat/use animal products. I am against cruelty towards animals and any living thing. I also believe we all have a purpose on earth and we need balance. Animals and vegetables are farmer to eat.

If you ate a meal today then support a farmer. I also believe there are cruelties to animal campaigns out there which do a LOAD of good work stopping and supporting mistreated animals.

Supporting a lobby group does not improve animal welfare.”

“PERSON 1... Factory Farming (My definition of this is animals not given the appropriate amount of space or the correct environment their entire lives)...Not if it is done cruelly without looking at the animals requirements... we should always be improving with whatever we do in life... Many of those industries are improving as we are educated and we educate the public, farmers and workers... But then I have seen animals treated just as cruelly in a free range situation which as a farmers daughter I have had to step in an do some ground work...I look at those pictures of hens in cages for their entire lives and try to do my bit for this by deliberately choosing free range and lately been choosing the McGrath Foundation Free Range eggs to support too good causes. Also have a few chooks of our own.

PERSON 2 - I eat meat and have no intention of stopping just like the wedge tail eagle we all have dietary requirements BUT in saying that I do choose items as best I can that are free range. Living in pastoral country means I have a greater understanding and realise that most of our beef and sheep are all born free range. My own family have produced many of these with no chemicals involved. I also try to go organics in meat products if affordable. I am not one to choose exotic leathers taken from poached animals for all our know. 

I'm also a great believer in low stress handling and stress training for animals (and people).

I hope this makes sense I keep getting called away and then come back and have to reread and start my trains of thought again.”

“I personally DON'T Support Animals Australia because I believe they have done more harm than good to the cause which WE ALL SHOULD BE WORKING TOGETHER ON. Mainly because as an organisation they don't do groundwork like RSPCA and such who manage to make a difference where it matters. They don't work together to make sure the problem is handle properly. Don't look on a global scale. This of course is my opinion based on their media.”

“Sadly due to Animals Australia’s poor handling of past campaigns I will never support any of their campaigns even if I agree in part. I will always be suspicious of their motives. I don't agree with the morals of the non-profit as they will never be looking to improve an industry to the point factory farming can be a think of the past. They will never do work on the ground like the RSPCA to educate and assist in animal welfare.”

My FACEBOOK POST after all the above posts. 

“If you want to understand FARMERS stance on COLES then you need to read this link below. BRILLIANTLY said Andrew Freshwater

 The term factory farming is NOT CORRECT and I honestly don't know what there meaning of it is in the eyes of AA and its supporters. Do they mean intensive farming?

 Australia has the best standards in the world and I wonder if some of the cruel photos come from overseas where standards aren't like they are here.

 Has anyone read the standards for the relevant industries and do they know what that industry is doing to improve?


 I am for ANIMAL WELFARE and despise cruelty. I also am not a supporter of any cruel farming methods

Much political pressure was put on Coles' owners Westfarmers from the NFF (National Farmers Federation) and the community as a whole.  In the past farmers have been largely unheard or voiceless but since the live export debate they have embraced media in many forms and are taking a stance to protect the land, animals, family and business.

“The squeaky wheel gets oiled”

I also think the farming community have not educated the consumer on improvements that have been made to our industry.  People no longer have a country cousin and the exposure to where their food comes from and current farming methods. 

Too many animals suffer because of a persons lack of knowledge on how to care for them.  Sometimes what they perceive as kindness or a treat can cause a lot of harm to the animal; too often they are humanised.  A common example of this is feeding dogs chocolate or onions.  Chocolate is a great treat to humans, for dogs it is harmful.

Follow Up Press

FACTORY FARMING an emotive term which needs to be ditched as it is not accurate 

30 or 40 years ago  - before the Internet and mobile phones had a impact on educating society -  there may have been so called cruelly housed animals out of ignorance rather than brutality.  However, a farmers profit relies on healthy happy animals.

Intensive Farming I think perhaps maybe what animal liberation groups are referring to, but it is hard to tell.


I decided to do some quick research into pig farming as they are one of the targeted industries.  Below are some links which I found interesting and informative.


Hen Welfare Advisory Group includes egg type brief descriptions

Quoted From HWAG:
“Q: Some animal welfare groups say that there is strong scientific evidence that hens suffer terribly in cages-is this true?
A: No. The weight of scientific evidence shows that cages systems provide many welfare benefits to hens compared to other methods, including reduced cannibalism, better disease control and lower overall moralities.”

Upon reading some of the egg research I did think twice about free range eggs.  Free range is all well and good when you have 3 hens roaming the back yard but looking at the risks to their safety and happiness does scare me a bit.


Closing Quotes on the issue found in the Save Live Export Group by members
Names removed for privacy... I wanted to LIKE these several times over when I first read them
“I don't think that AA supporters get it. If the shopping bags had been from the RSPCA or similar, nothing would have been said. They don't campaign against people eating lamb as AA does. Their supporters generally don't call farmers scum and murderers. They are focused on animal welfare, not animal liberation. Perhaps AA should start to wonder why they are generating so much hatred against farmers with their propaganda, unlike the RSPCA.”

“I'll take it at face value that you came to learn - good on you for that. In light of that, it's important to understand that it was not simply a campaign against "factory farming". That piece of spin came from Animals Australia and Coles AFTER the issue broke. In fact, the agency that designed the campaign stated very clearly on their website that it was designed as a branding exercise for Animals Australia.
AA has every right to state their case (promoting veganism) and farmers have every right to oppose it.
The argument was whether Coles should be distributing the message of an activist organisation devoted to destroying the livelihoods of many of their suppliers whilst selling products (imported pork) that flew in the face of every tenet of the campaign. Even at the point of withdrawing the campaign, AA resorted to some absurd spin - they're claiming they've withdrawn the bags to "protect" Coles from a farmer campaign.

Seriously? I reckon you'd struggle to find any Australian who reckons Coles needs protecting...”


In the last 40 years as technology has increased the farming community has not showcased the improvements to the industry enough.  We have not educated the public on what we do on a daily basis to ensure the safety and happiness.  

Regulation in all agricultural industries have increased but we have never thought to inform the consumer about what has changed.  We have stopped educating.

We have defended a negative campaign.  NOW is the time to explain, to promote the changes already enforced.  To show what we are working on and what we hope to achieve throughout agriculture.  
I recently posted this photo meme on the Ask An Aussie Farmer facebook page for the THERE TO CARE campaign
My challenge to the farming community is to find a change which has improved animal welfare and broadcast it as a photo meme to the public or post it on pages like Ask An Aussie Farmer (AAAF).  You have seen what AAAF and other bloggers do, its your turn now.

Its time for our industry bodies to provide and educate about changes.... represent their members and not just relying on individuals and websites like Ask An Aussie Farmer to provide information in a way which the modern world can consume.

Thanks for listening to my voice

Cheers Lee-Anne

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