Minister urges farmers to work alongside consumers

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Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser

Minister for Agriculture Alannah MacTiernan has urged farmers to listen to consumers and work alongside them, rather than against them, to create the ethical produce they demand.

The comments were made during her visit to Albany last week, on the back of the increase in trespass incidents on farming properties as the feud between farmers and animal activists grows.

Ms MacTiernan said it was not in the interest of farmers to ramp up the cultural war.

“To create a vegan versus farmers war suits the interests of some people, but certainly does not suit the purpose of farmers — we need to go out there and be selling the positive message that farmers are listening to consumers, they are wanting to provide the food that consumers want to eat and are doing it in a way that is humane,” she said.

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“I really urge those people who are serious about animal welfare, and want to contribute to the wellbeing of animals, to join with farmers and work through good levels of standards and work through an acceptable useful level of animal welfare standards. Every time we go with this us and them, this war language, we take a step back rather than a step forward.

“Our job is to ensure that we are producing these animals in humane circumstances. That’s what consumers want to hear and that’s the message that we need to get to those consumers.”

A Calm the Farm information evening was held in Harvey last Thursday to discuss producers’ rights and how to react during confrontation with activists.

The discussion followed incidents at a Harvey dairy farm and a West Pinjarra piggery.

Ms MacTiernan said she was in full support of the Farmers’ Federation’s Calm the Farm message.

“We totally support the message of the Farmers’ Federation to calm the farm, and we totally think that is the right approach and we have been offering every support to the Farmers’ Federation in getting out and taking that message.

“We have been meeting with the farm advisory groups with the police, we have now two individuals who have been prosecuted and we have made it very clear that where there are breaches of the law, and we have established those, we will jump on this very quickly.

“We have to be savvy as a farming community and we have well established practices — we are transparent, we can’t tolerate people coming onto our property and creating biosecurity threats.”

She did not believe that trespass laws needed to be strengthened.

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