Source: The Land (Fairfax Agricultural Media)
Full Story can be read HERE
It got me thinking about the lengths some people go to, and what they will do to get what they view to be "a good story". The purpose of this post is not to critique the article that has been printed in the land as on the majority it is a fairly balanced piece taking into account both sides of the story.
Now being a University Student I don't pretend for a second to think that I know all about Pig Farming operations, but one of the biggest things I have learned with regards to farming operations of any nature is the need for a quarantine (or biosecurity as it is commonly referred to as) system to be in place. Some industry like the pig and chicken industries use much more stringent protocols than other industries.The primary method of application for these systems is to minimize the chances of exposure to foreign material that could otherwise cause detrimental effects to the well being of animals.
In the case of the pig industry this is often a system that begins at the front gate whereby operations access is only available to that farms staff or those visitors that have not had exposure to pigs from other herds or been to other quarantinable areas (such as overseas trips or other farms). This time frame is usually set by the managing body and can range from 2 days to 2 weeks quarantine before access to the farm is granted.
Other protocols include wash down facilities for vehicles or designated parking areas and internal transport options.
Once on site general biosecurity protocol dictates that ALL clothing is removed and stored in the "non-clean" area and that you shower for a designated period of time to access the "clean" area. In this area employees are provided with a full change of clothes including undergarments (usually consists of socks, underwear and overalls + undershirts/jackets for colder months). Once changed into the piggery attire the employee is not permitted access to the "unclean" area unless they remove all of their garments and shower out to access the other area.
This is a very basic overview of bio-security systems. Some farms possess very complicated systems, but all are based on this standard system.
I find it interesting that Animal Welfare activists could risk jeopardising the health and well being of the very animals that they are trying to so called "protect". By what would seem blatantly ignoring the signs that clearly indicated they should not be in these areas without the proper permission and authorities. Never mind the fact that alone their actions are considered trespass and breaking and entering and there are people who consider this action to be commendable. A suggestion to compare this to: How would you feel if someone snuck in. during the dead of night, ignored all the warning signs that said your house was private and installed cameras to "monitor" you or your family? Feel like your privacy has been invaded? Now consider if you were in hospital, in a quarantine area and someone did the same - ignored all the signs and potentially brought in something that although they thought it was a simple sniffle, turned out be something much worse and threatened your well being? A bit scary isn't it? Well that's a simple analogy of what has happened here.
Another problem with entering these facilities without undertaking the proper protocols (IE- actually seeking permission in the first place from the owners/management staff.) is the fact that many piggeries (and other industries) require a biosecurity protocol that has to be followed for the purposes of their export market. Many farms (this may or may not apply to the farm in this case) require this chain of controls to maintain their contracts with buyers as this presents assurances that the product is fit for market. Illegally entering a facility of this nature is not only potentially compromising the wellbeing of the animals it is also compromising the ability of the enterprise to sell their product - again this ONLY applies in certain cases and differs depending on the market, and without further information is hard to determine in this case.
Instead of breaking into facilities to illegally install video recording equipment, here's a simple suggestion - Why not give the farm a call? If you are up front about it from the beginning some farms will be more than willing to talk to you. Or by doing a little research on company websites you can gain an understanding of how they work.
Now many farms have a no camera policy and the reason behind this is images can tell many different stories. Without explanation the image something as simple as a farmer assisting a cow (or any animal for that matter) to give birth could be misconstrued or even warped and tailored to appear to be something completely different. No producer likes the public to have the wrong story that is why they don't want footage released without the proper explanation of what is occurring so that the viewer is aware of what is occurring. It's easy to use tactics of shock value to influence a viewer into seeing what you want them to see if you don't explain it properly.
In summary I find the contempt displayed by these activists to be unsettling as it has not only jeopardised the health and well being of the herd, it has also potentially affected the trading of the company in question and the actions employed by the activists are quite simply AGAINST THE LAW. Trespass and Break & Enter are offences which can result in arrest and potential prosecutions against both the individual and the organization that they are representing. The instalation of recording equipment in Private Property by an unauthoaurised or non government group is also against the law and again can result in potential prosecution.
Generally speaking if you want to know about a husbandry practice that is being undertaken contact a farmer or an industry professional such as an industry group or lecturer/trainer/teacher etc. If you are UP FRONT and clear about why you want to know the information than generally most will be happy to respond.
If you are interested in learning more about farming feel free to check out the Ask An Aussie Farmer Page on Facebook (HERE) and the admin team are generally all too happy to help or point you in the direction of someone who can help.
Source: Ask An Aussie Farmer (Facebook Page)
Full Page Can Be Viewed Here