By Alice Dell (3rd Yr LaTrobe Uni)
The Victorian Government has plans in place to introduce new animal welfare laws in 2024, raising concerns within the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF).
The VFF website says these laws will have potentially substantial impacts on the agriculture industry.
According to Victoria’s New Animal and Protection Laws Plan, the current POCTA Act has been in place for more than 30 years and is partially outdated.
The main goal of the new Act is to modernise Victoria’s animal welfare laws and set general expectations for how we treat animals.
Fiskville farmer and VFF Livestock Council President, Scott Young, said he is concerned by the lack of consultation with the industry and individual farmers themselves.
“I’m constantly concerned on another level that the government seems to be listening more to minority fringe groups rather than the farming industry itself.
“We are just really concerned that the broader farming industry is not involved in these discussions,” he told the Moorabool News.
They worry that the new laws may not uphold farmers’ rights and advocate for an agriculture representative to be included in decision-making groups.
The new Act would mean that skilled non-veterinary practitioners would no longer be able to perform essential farming procedures which the VFF feels would have a negative impact on the industry.
“If something like that comes through, I understand it for domestic pets, not for commercial farmers who are highly experienced in these animal husbandry practices,” Mr Young said.
He says there are simply not enough vets to do the work required.
“Vets are under a lot of pressure and stress as it is. They’re working extremely long hours. To expect a vet, who has been in school for, however many years, to go out and mark lambs on a farmer’s property is just absolutely ridiculous.”
The VFF are in the process of consulting with the government to ensure the agriculture industry is considered and represented within the new Act.
“This is a way for the government to try and push animal agriculture out of existence. They’ll have to watch themselves because that is potentially what will happen,” Mr Young concluded.
The Victorian Government opened up a feedback survey on the new act in October 2022, which quickly received over 1200 responses.