An animal activist group branding itself as a charity is targeting producers across the country with a map of farm locations published on Facebook.
The map is sourced from a database available at www.aussiefarms.org.au, which is based on information submitted by the general public.
The interactive map lists the location of hundreds of rural properties, including livestock farms, meatworks and dairies.
Aussie Farms’ registered users are encouraged to upload information about farming practices and images of livestock and production.
The Aussie Farms group states its goal is “fighting to end commercialised animal abuse and exploitation through public education about modern farming and slaughtering practices”.
Aussie Farms’ online manifesto says the organisation believe animal industries “rely on secrecy and deception” and use marketing ploys to create a false impression of good animal welfare.
“By breaking down this secrecy and making it easier for consumers to see the truth about what their purchases support, the commercialised abuse and exploitation of animals will slowly but surely come to an end,” the manifesto says.
National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson demanded the group’s charitable status be revoked and for Facebook to remove Aussie Farms’ page.
"If the page is not taken down today, we seek a meeting with Facebook’s Australian representatives to discuss,” she said.
“The charitable status of the group must be retracted by the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission.
“Their business model is to openly flout Australia’s laws to undermine farming and agriculture in Australia.
“Aussie Farms, unbelievably, a registered charity, has been linked to a number of trespass incidents, including an incident in December where 55 protesters forced their way into an abattoir in Nhill, Victoria.”
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said Aussie Farms’ site could encourage illegal behaviour and be used as “an attack map for activists”.
“Farms are people’s homes, not just their businesses,” Mr Littleproud said.
“We don’t know if the footage posted on this website is actually from the farm it is attributed to. Content such as graphic images or video can be uploaded and attached to any farm by anonymous users.”
“This potentially encourages activists to trespass and worse after being misled about the practices on that farm. Trespass also has the potential to cause significant bio-security issues that ironically could lead to the death of the animal.
Ms Simson said Aussie Farms had risked the safety of farmers and published incorrect information that listed some locations as farms that in fact were not.
The map has also caught the attention of respected rural markets analyst, Andrew Whitelaw, Mecardo.
Mr Whitelaw said the website could be used as a tool in more extreme, direct action against farmers.
“It is concerning for anyone to have their property listed on a website (because) it is easy for people to determine where particular farms are,” he said.
“It (the map) is also not necessarily accurate in a lot of places. They have identified properties that are not even in operation anymore.”
Mr Whilelaw said that by encouraging individuals to upload information, photos and videos about farms, feedlots and processing operations, the website was promoting on-farm activism which could be in breach of biosecurity regulations.
“My personal view is that it encourages on-farm activatism or at least it makes that process easier,” he said.
Ms Simson said the NFF has sought legal advice on Aussie Farms implied link between farmers represented on the map and animal cruelty and in regards to any infringement of privacy and trespass laws.
"We have today spoken with, both the Minister and Shadow Minister for Agriculture, who have condemned the group’s behaviours and objectives,” she said.
"I will also write to the police in each state and territory, alerting them to the 'library' of imagery on the Aussie Farms website, questioning how the material was collected."
Aussie Farms founder and director is long-time animal activist Chris Delforce.
Mr Delforce launched the Dominion documentary last year, which he said highlighted poor animal welfare in livestock industries.
“There have been many hours of footage we’ve watched, where even if an animal is not abused, there’s always the fear, there’s always suffering,” Mr Delforce said.
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