In the past 12 months, Victoria Police has received 11 reports of farm trespass. After animal activists invaded the Gippy Goat Café in Yarragon, court imposed fines totalled a measly $2.
This penalty is in stark contrast to the anguish Victorian farmers are facing with the continued threat of farm invasions.
Clearly the current penalties for farm trespass are inadequate when, by their own admission, activists willfully defy the law and continue to invade family farms.
The Victorian Parliament's Inquiry into the Impact of Animal Rights Activism on Victorian Agriculture has received almost 500 submissions from the public.
The next stage of the inquiry commenced this week with farmers and other stakeholders set to speak to the committee over six hearings across Victoria in the coming weeks. The VFF will have farmer representatives at every hearing to defend our members and their right to farm.
Victoria needs to strengthen penalties to deter farm trespass, including on-the-spot fines of at least $1000 and penalties of up to $220,000 for individuals and $400,000 for organisations.
Tougher laws are required because trespass on farm properties presents particular risks that do not exist in other workplaces such as risks to personal safety, the economy, biosecurity and public health.
Most importantly, farm trespass is akin to home invasion. Farms are not only a place of work, but are our farming families' homes.
We need real outcomes from this Inquiry to protect farmers and deter invaders. Thank you to everyone who made a submission to the Inquiry and the brave farmers that are speaking at the hearings.
Activists have shown their willingness to ruthlessly and repeatedly invade farms. It takes guts to speak out against these activists, and on behalf of all farmers, I am grateful for your courage.
- David Jochinke, VFF president