VICTORIA’S peak farmer group has slammed aspects of the State Government’s Animal Welfare Action Plan including proposed recognition of animal sentience and the formation of the new Animal Welfare Victoria.
The Victorian Farmers Federation said it recognised the need for modern welfare laws but the introduction of sentience would cause adverse welfare outcomes for animals as production systems were thrown into chaos.
VFF president David Jochinke it would render some farm businesses unviable, causing job losses, economic damage to regional communities and crippling the supply chains that rely on these businesses.
“Animal welfare law is about addressing human behaviour towards animals, not addressing animals,” he said.
“We’re sending a stern warning to government that introducing sentience is unnecessary and would cause significant implications for farm businesses.
“It will add nothing to improve standards that farmers currently meet for their animals, who will continue to make the best choices available.
“What it does is introduce language into law that can be manipulated by animal extremists for their own purposes.”
Mr Jochinke said the VFF recognised the broader community role in the development of animal welfare standards in modern society but argued science-based evidence free of extremist influence would provide the best welfare outcomes.
“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.
“What is important is ensuring farmers have the resources they need to do what’s best for their animals.
“The government needs to ensure in this election year, their priorities are aligned to support the very people that provide food for the tables of Victoria.”