News

Farm locations online for all to see

By Country News

Farmers have been left fuming after an animal-rights-run website published the locations and details of more than 5700 Australian farms.

The map, created by Aussie Farms, has been slammed by the federal and state governments, farmer groups and local producers who say it links accredited and law-abiding farming properties with animal cruelty, violates their privacy by revealing their home addresses and incites the public to trespass on their properties to take photographs and collect video footage.

The description of the map said it was created to ‘‘force transparency on an industry dependent on secrecy’’.

‘‘We believe in freedom of information as a powerful tool in the fight against animal abuse and exploitation,’’ the website reads.

The website does not disclose the authors or contributors to the map or provide a direct address or phone number of those responsible for compiling it.

Stanhope pig farmer and former VFF pig group president John Burke was among those whose farm was listed on the map, and labelled those that had created the map as ‘‘d***heads’’.

‘‘I think he’s (Aussie Farms executive director Chris Delforce) very naive ... Why don’t you go help the sick or the elderly?’’ Mr Burke said.

Mr Burke said he was concerned about the website encouraging people to collect and upload photos of farms to the website.

‘‘That’s what’s probably going to happen — people wandering onto farms,’’ he said.

‘‘All our farms are APIQ (Australian Pork Industry Quality Assurance) accredited, all our staff are trained ... there’s always faults, no industry is perfect, but we produce the food people eat.’’

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud called for Aussie Farms to have its charity status revoked and said all governments must beef up trespass laws, admitting there was ‘‘little’’ the Federal Government could do about the map.

‘‘Farmers around Australia are concerned for themselves and their children,’’ he said.

‘‘No-one would like the address of their family home put up online for all to see. There are plenty of nutters out there — and who knows what one of them will do.

‘‘The risk of trespass and farm vandalism is higher since this website went up, and state governments need to respond with laws that punish trespassers and vigilantes. Plenty of information on this website has already been proven wrong, and it would only take one idiot to act on information from this website for a tragedy to occur.’’

Aussie Farms did not respond to requests for comment.

A Victorian Government spokesperson said it was ‘‘absolutely unacceptable’’.

‘‘This is not voicing an opinion, it actually puts hard-working farming families at risk.

‘‘We take animal welfare seriously and are leading the nation in combating cruelty and neglect — but do not condone this sort of behaviour in any way.’’

NSW Farmers slammed the map, with vice-president Chris Groves labelling it ‘‘highly disturbing’’ and calling for legal action, while NFF president Fiona Simson pledged to campaign for the Facebook page to be closed.

‘‘Farmers’ privacy, their right to farm and, most disturbingly, their safety and that of their families and animals, are at risk,’’ she said.

‘‘Farmers are rightly distressed that their name has incorrectly been linked to ‘animal cruelty’.’’

Ms Simson said the NFF was seeking legal counsel on the implied link the map made to the farmers represented and animal cruelty, and in regards to any potential infringement of privacy and trespass laws.

■The NFF has created a webpage providing advice for those listed on the map. For more information, visit: farmers.org.au/news/fighting-back-against-the-activist-farm-map/