The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has slammed aspects of the state government’s Animal Welfare Action Plan including the proposed recognition of animal sentience and the formation of a new Animal Welfare Victoria organisation.
“We’re sending a stern warning to government that introducing sentience is unnecessary and would cause significant implications for farm businesses,” VFF president David Jochinke said.
The VFF said it recognised the need for modern welfare laws but the introduction of sentience would cause adverse welfare outcomes for animals and throw animal production systems into chaos.
The government’s proposals would render some farm businesses unviable, causing job losses and untold economic damage to regional communities, and cripple the supply chains that relied on those businesses, the VFF said.
Animal welfare law was about addressing human behaviour towards animals, not addressing animals, the VFF said.
“It will add nothing to improve standards that farmers currently meet for their animals, who will continue to make the best choices available,” Mr Jochinke said.
“What it does do is introduce language into law that can be manipulated by animal extremists for their own purposes,” he said.
“We recognise the broader community role in the development of animal welfare standards in modern society but science based evidence that’s free of extremist influence will provide the best welfare outcomes and must be the priority,” Mr Jochinke said.
“Legislation and industry quality assurance programs currently in place provide confidence to our domestic and international customers.
“Our world class animal welfare practices underpin the regional economies many communities rely on,” he said.
The VFF also dismissed the proposed new Animal Welfare Victoria body as just another level of bureaucracy.
The proposed new organisation would add to the cost to food production without providing any positive welfare outcomes, the VFF said.
“What is important is ensuring farmers have the resources they need to do what’s best for their animals, not the creation of more red tape,” Mr Jochinke said.
The state government needed to ensure in this election year, its priorities were aligned to supporting the people that provided food for the tables of Victoria, the VFF said.
It said some farmers were already dealing with challenges such as low commodity prices, trade access issues, high energy prices and council rates, labour hire concern and issues with essential infrastructure such as telecommunications, roads and rail networks, and didn’t need another problem.