Victoria's top farm crime police officer has told the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria annual conference force command took a very serious view of animal activism, trespass and protests..
Victoria Police Livestock Theft and Farm Crime Head of Practice Superintendent Peter Greaney told the UDV conference vegan activism, such as that last month, was not going to go away.
Activists blocked streets in Melbourne and protested outside Victorian abattoirs.
"In regards to those overt activities, police can get there, en masse, and deal with them," Supt Greaney said..
"It's the covert acts that I worry about, and that's where I need your help, to help us police those particular acts."
He said Victoria Police's Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton was very passionate about combatting farm crime and animal activism.
"He is being briefed on what we are doing at the moment, what we can do in the future and what we need to do, to change legislation, in regards to protecting you, your families, your employees and livelihoods," Supt Greaney said.
"There is a whole suite of laws we can use and we will use.
"The Deputy Commissioner is certainly keen to take action, charge these people and bring them before the courts."
He said, in the first instance, farmers should always contact the police.
"If you don't have regular contact with police, make sure you do," Superintendent Greaney said.
While some stations were not staffed 24 hours a day, farmers could always call Triple Zero.
"If you see someone on the property that shouldn't be there, call the police and tell them there are people on your property that don't have the authority to be there and ask officers to come out."
Farmers were also in their rights to ask people, who had not been invited onto the property, to leave.
UDV president Paul Mumford said the dairy industry must respond to the threat of farm invasions, with a strong, coordinated strategy.
"Animal activists disrupt legal businesses, risk animal health by breaching biosecurity, and use force and intimidation in pursuit of their personal beliefs," Mr Mumford said.
"The dairy industry must respond to the threat of farm invasions with a strong, coordinated strategy.
"It is of critical importance that we protect the safety and security of our farmers and our animals,"
UDV members voted unanimously for UDV to 'lobby to ensure that harsher penalties are put in place to deter animal activists from partaking in activities that ... put stock and farming families at risk' and to 'provide adequate information to members with regards to laws and the rights of farmers'..
"I'm glad this resolution was brought to conference, it shows how serious this issue is for our members and gives us a strong mandate to go forward with," Mr Mumford said.
"We hope the inquiry into animal activists, recently passed in the Victorian Parliament, will strengthen the penalties for farm trespassers..
"We will ensure UDV is closely consulted during the inquiry so we can secure real outcomes for farmers."
Mr Mumford said farmers would continue to engage with Victoria Police and other stakeholders so members could be provided with the best information on their legal rights.
"As Superintendent Greaney said, these animal activists aren't going away," Mr Mumford said.
" So to tackle this problem in the long term, agriculture needs to address consumer concerns by building greater knowledge about food and fibre production in Victoria, and the importance farmers place on animal health and welfare."
Supt Greaney praised farmers in western Victoria, who had recently seen four young women, found in an area of a property where they should not have been.
He said the women claimed they were looking for a toilet.
"They weren't on a part of the property where you would actually go to the toilet, and they were very close to a couple of lambs," Supt Greaney said..
"There was no doubt there was an intention to take those lambs away.
"They referred to it as saving the lambs; I refer to as stealing the lambs."
He said the registration details of the vehicle the young women were using was reported to police and it was found that two of them were involved in animal activism.
"These farmers did the right thing, they asked them to leave, which the women did," Supt Greaney said.
"They had a horse float attached to one of the vehicles, so you can be pretty well guarantee what they were going to do with it."