… RSPCA condemns illegal activism, but offers no support for farmers ...
Where does RSPCA stand on militant anti-farm activism?
Terry Sim, BEEF Central (Australia)
April 10, 2019
RSPCA Australia has refused to publicly declare its support for farmers accredited under its ‘RSPCA Approved’ animal welfare scheme, despite recent vegan activist protests targetting livestock farming and processors.
Although the charity has said it condemns illegal activist activity, the body’s reluctance to declare its support for RSPCA Approved farmers or the rights of livestock producers generally has caused farmers and farm leaders to question its true nature and intent.
On its website, the RSPCA says it works with farming’s peak bodies to develop animal welfare standards and effect positive change in animal husbandry and management. It also works directly with farmers who choose to participate in its Approved Farming Scheme and the Beef Cattle Welfare Challenge.
The RSPCA has developed animal welfare standards for the care of layer hens, pigs, meat chickens, turkeys and dairy veal, collecting royalties from companies wanting to use ‘RSPCA Approved’ branding on products.
The body has refused to publicly confirm or deny whether there had been any activist incursions on accredited RSPCA Approved farms in case they were targeted, although Sheep Central has been told the body has advised farmers on how to deal with trespassing protestors and media enquiries.
‘Hypocrisy on a massive scale’: Farmer
However, northern Victorian beef producer Frank Tobin, initially on ABC radio this week, has called out the RSPCA for not publicly supporting its ‘approved’ farmers and livestock farming generally, after the latest spate of vegan activist trespass actions.
Mr Tobin said it was “hypocrisy on a massive scale” for the RSPCA to collect millions of dollars in royalties associated with livestock production, but not publicly declare its support for ‘approved’ farmers.
“The fact that the RSPCA has even one farm with their brand on it means that they have some skin in the game – they are backing their brand on the back of farmers changing their practices.
“They are deadly silent that’s my point, or is the question that needs to be asked of the RSPCA: Are you quietly happy sitting back letting this mob of radicals do your bidding for you and knowing that they are promoting the hidden agenda of some of the radical elements within your ranks?”
Mr Tobin said the RSPCA should justify why farmers ought to subscribe to its RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme when it will not come out and back them when activists trespass on farms and in processing plants.
He asked why farmers are battling activists on their own when many groups — including grocery retailers like Coles, Woolworths and ALDI — were prepared to promote Australian-sourced product and use ‘clean green’ farm provenance images and branding without supporting farmers publicly during the spate of activist protests.
“There are a lot of groups who are making money at our expense and they won’t come and back us – it goes to everyone who trades off farmers, they should be coming out and back us and our programs.
“Farmers, at their cost, are continually having to defend their right to farm when a huge section of the community, which makes a shit-load of money out of us and know how good our programs are not supporting us,” he said.
“The silence from these groups is bloody deafening.”
He said farmers spent a lot of money developing their production programs to get RSPCA, retailer and community approval.
“But when it comes to the crunch, these mobs are silent – everybody who makes money out of farming should be out there supporting farming.”
Mr Tobin considered that the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme was saying that what accredited farmers were doing in looking after their animals was “right,” while “this mob of radical vegans are wrong.”
“That needs to be communicated to the general population who don’t understand what is going on behind the scenes.”
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