News

Activist almost turned young farmer off agriculture

By Geoff Adams

A pork farmer has told federal politicians that one of his daughters considered dumping her long-held plan to get involved in the business after animal activists invaded the family's farm.

Ean Pollard has shared his experience at a Senate inquiry scrutinising proposed laws cracking down on activists who incite farm invasions.

He says activists broke into his piggery in the NSW town of Young in the middle of the night around Easter last year.

They took pictures and videos that he argues misrepresented the situation at the farm, because his sows had thought the visitors were going to feed them and were rattled when they didn't.

The footage was uploaded to YouTube and shown to Mr Pollard by a journalist from Today Tonight.

"It was a ... misrepresentation of what actually happens in my pig shed, especially at 3am in the morning when they're stirring and aggravating my animals to get some sensational footage," he said.

Mr Pollard received backlash through emails, letters and phone calls. The challenging aftermath rocked the interest of his two daughters in getting involved in the farm, he said, leaving one to weigh up what she should do when she finished university.

"She even questioned whether she wanted to be part of agriculture," he said.

"We eventually got her to see that there's a bigger picture here ... fortunately, she's still involved in agriculture and the farm."

National Farmers' Federation chief executive Tony Mahar said Mr Pollard was just one farmer who had fallen victim to increasing numbers of farm invasions nationally.

"The passage of this bill will send a strong message to farmers that the government understands how serious this issue is," Mr Mahar said.

Under the proposed laws, somebody found guilty of inciting trespass on farms could face up to a year behind bars. Anyone inciting damage or theft on agricultural land could be jailed for up to five years.

When asked whether he was concerned the laws could be used against farmers in their own activism, Mr Mahar was coy.

"We have confidence that the laws would be applied on a case-by-case basis," he said.

Australian Dairy Farmers strategy and policy director Craig Hough said the laws were important given the way the invasions were arising.

"What's fuelling these incidents are social media platforms," Mr Hough said.

The NFF and farming federations of NSW and Victoria said they did not have statistics on farm invasions, citing the way they were tallied by police.

The latest on the farm invasions debate

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