Stop hiding from wool's enemies

Scrutiny from groups opposed to the farming of animals will only increase

AS THE Australian wool industry painfully found out last week, PETA does better undercover work than the CIA.

Horrific video footage captured by people working undercover for PETA showing Australian shearers mistreating sheep quickly sped around the world.

The gruesome footage had done its job well before the Australian sheep industry managed to crank out a response to what was an unfair attack on the overwhelming majority of sheep producers and shearers.

Not that the US-based PETA would have cared. The aim of its undercover "horror show" was to further damage the Australian sheep and wool industry in the eyes of consumers around the world.

PETA gets most of its media headlines from its undercover "investigations". Major left-wing media organisations seem only too happy to spread PETA's "message" without much investigation of their own about the authenticity and fairness of that message.

In 2013 an undercover PETA investigator made damaging allegations against US hall-of-fame racehorse trainer, Steve Asmussen, after working in his stables for four months.

The investigator accused the trainer of forcing injured and suffering horses to race and train with the help of pain killers and tranquillisers after collecting seven hours of video with a hidden camera. The claims are now being investigated by racing regulators in New York and Kentucky.

So-called animal rights groups and their vegetarian "cousins" clearly have the horse racing industry in their global sights.

PETA's undercover work has also focused regularly on the intensive chicken and pork industries, as well as pigeon racing in the UK and Taiwan and angora rabbit farming in China.

Swedish clothing giant, H&M, stopped using angora fur after PETA released video showing cruel harvesting practices in China.

The message for Australian livestock industries is that scrutiny from groups opposed to the farming of animals will only increase. They are looking for every opportunity to kick these industries.

And no matter how disconnected these groups and their spokespeople may seem from the real world, their anti-livestock campaigns are targeted at the same well-heeled consumers that Australian farmers want to buy their premium meat and wool.

The best response from Australian farmers is to strive to improve their animal welfare practices and have zero tolerance to anybody caught being cruel to animals.

For the record, I have wrestled with big, mud-fat Merino sheep which haven't wanted to be penned up or drenched. Some of them would test the patience of Mother Teresa. But nothing excuses cruelty.

And I'd suggest Australian livestock industries now need a well-resourced tactical response team able to quickly roll out a credible response for the media when the likes of PETA launch their latest assault on animal farming.

Vernon Graham

Vernon Graham

is the group editor of Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


17/07/2014 3:36:59 PM

Just as is the case in court cases, illegally obtained visual or audio footage should be disallowed. Laws should be put in place now which very heavily penalize the perpetrators. After all such actions are the actions of terrorists at worst and vigilantes at best. Neither are legal activities.
Chick Olsson
29/07/2014 7:22:06 AM

Excellent and correct response, Vernon. When we wake up to the opportunities being presented on the world stage to talk about how good our farmers are, rather than a typical attack on the messenger..well, what have we learned over the past 10 years?
A matter of opinionA selection of editorials from around the Fairfax Agricultural Media group covering the issues of the week.


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