False Claim Of Transparency from National Farmers’ Federation

Published 12 September 2019

The National Farmers' Federation (NFF) recently made a claim of transparency, inviting the public to see real Australian farms. When we took them up on their offer, the NFF went silent...

In an article shared on the Australian Farmers website, the President of the National Farmers’ Federation, Fiona Simson spoke about the wellbeing of animals, and claimed that ‘our industry takes the community’s expectations very seriously and where we don’t meet them, we commit to doing better’. This was followed by the following invitation:

‘We welcome visitors, arranged through the appropriate channels, and are more than happy to engage with those who take an interest in farming…’

– Fiona Simson, President of the NFF

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Move the slider to compare the image of farm life presented by NFF versus the reality of sheep farming, where between 10-15 million newborn lambs die of starvation, neglect and exposure within 48 hours of birth. Source: sheeptruth.com

In the interest of transparency around how animals are raised and slaughtered for human consumption and clothing, Animal Liberation Victoria decided to take up this offer. We sent the following e-mail to the NFF:

From: Animal Liberation Victoria
To: National Farmers’ Federation
Date: 17/07/2019, 10:35

Hi Fiona,

I’m writing on behalf of Animal Liberation Victoria in response to your public invitation to visit farms – “We welcome visitors, arranged through the appropriate channels, and are more than happy to engage with those who take an interest in farming”.

While we have many differences, we value this invitation as an act of transparency.

We would like to take you up on your offer to visit some farms, as well as ask some questions about day to day practices on Australian farms.

We would really like to see not only the farms themselves, but the facilities that relate to them. For example if there are free-range chickens we would also like to see their breeding facilities, the facilities where male chicks are disposed of, and the slaughterhouse they are sent to when they aren’t producing enough anymore.

We would also like the opportunity to take photos and video during these visits of standard industry practices so that those who are unable to attend are still able to see the reality of what happens on Australian farms.

Thank you for your time. If this was a genuine offer we look forward to organising some farm visits in the near future.

Kind regards,

Emma Hakansson

Male chicks being ground alive in the egg industry, footage by Aussie Farms.

Two emails were sent, first on July 17th and again on July 29th when there was no response to the first.

From: Animal Liberation Victoria
To: National Farmers’ Federation
Date: 29/07/2019, 11:54

Hello,

Just forwarding our previous email to you, below in case it was missed.

We hope that your offer of transparency was genuine, and if this is the case, we look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you

Emma

A response was received from the NFF three minutes after the second email was sent on the 29th. The NFF said they were happy to arrange a farm visit.

From: National Farmers’ Federation
To: Animal Liberation Victoria
Date: 29/07/2019, 11:58

Dear Emma

Thank you for getting in touch with the National Farmers’ Federation and for your interest in the welfare of farm animals, modern agriculture and transparency.

We welcome your request to visit a working farm. For your information, we don’t represent abattoirs, so we can’t facilitate a visit to these such premises.

To assist us to facilitate a farm visit, we require the following information.

• Full name:
• Date of birth:
• Postal address:
• Residential address (if different):
• Contact details (mobile and landline)
* Mobile:
* Landline:
* Email address:
• Occupation:
• Details of Next of Kin:
* Full name:
* Landline:
* Mobile:
• A copy of a current police check
• Dietary requirements

We look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Laureta Wallace

ALV responded on August 1st, to confirm whether we would be able to see standard farm practices and ask further questions.

From: Animal Liberation Victoria
To: National Farmers’ Federation
Date: 01/08/2019, 14:14

Dear Laureta,

Thank you for your prompt reply, my apologies this was a little slower.

Would we be able to visit a dairy and beef farm as a first point?

We would like to be able to see cows in their day to day life, but also when they undergo standard farming practices including:

  • Surgical castration without pain relief – as this is the most common method of castration
  • Dehorning of calves by heat cautery, scoop dehorners or gouging knife without pain relief (recommended methods in Victoria, not requiring pain relief)
  • Bobby calves being separated from cows
  • Artificial insemination

We’d be interested to hear the perspective of farmers, what they think about what they do, farming as a whole and about veganism, too.

In the interests of full transparency we would like to take video and photos of these standard industry practices. We would not, of course, identify any workers.

Also, thank you for the clarification regarding abattoirs. Are you able to provide us with contact information and an introduction to some abattoirs, who are similarly interested in providing transparency regarding their day to day practices.

We will make sure to get the required information and police checks to you once you can confirm what we are able to see on our visit. We anticipate having two or three team members at most in attendance.

Thank you,

Emma

A heated cautery being used to remove horn buds, legal standard practice without pain relief for calves.

ALV sent  follow up emails on both August 8th and August 14th due to no response from the NFF.

From: Animal Liberation Victoria
To: National Farmers’ Federation
Date: 08/08/2019, 13:21

Hi there,

I hope you are well.

In case you missed our reply to you dated 01/08, I have resent it below, as we’d really like to co-ordinate this with you soon.

Please let us know, and we’ll get you the required information.

Thank you

Emma

One final email was sent, following silence from the NFF:

From: Animal Liberation Victoria
To: National Farmers’ Federation
Date: 14/08/2019, 13:23

Dear Lauretta,

I hope you are well.

It has been about two weeks since our last communication. We would very much like to be able to co-ordinate the farm visits we discussed, following Ms Simson’s offer of transparency and statement that visitors on farms are welcome, organised through the appropriate channels.

As soon as we have confirmation from you that these visits can take place as discussed in my previous e-mail, we will organise our police checks and the other information you require, so that we can organise some mutually beneficial dates.

If we do not hear back from you within the week we will assume this was not a genuine offer.

Thank you

Emma

With no response, it is clear this offer of transparency was not legitimate, but a way to mislead the public into appearing as though they have nothing to hide.

The National Farmers Federation often makes unsupported claims about the transparent and honest nature of animal agriculture. The following quotes are from both NFF public industry documents, and the NFF’s submission to the current Inquiry into the Impact of Animal Rights
Activism on Victorian Agriculture
:

‘Farmers understand their responsibility to be transparent in the way they operate and to respond to community expectations around important issues such as animal welfare.’ 

‘At every step on [our] journey, we have engaged our customers –giving them a transparent insight into the way we farm and meeting their changing expectations.’ 

‘Maintaining trust and support is critical.’ 

Selective transparency is not transparency. To only show the public misleading images of cows wandering through meadows, without showing them the rest of the standard practices involved in the farming of animals, is not transparent or truthful, in fact it is deceptive.

The public has a right to know what happens in all areas of animal agriculture. This includes the separation of baby calves and mother cows, mother pigs confined in crates so small they can’t turn around, the grinding up of fully conscious day old chicks, newborn lambs being left to suffer and die, and the slaughter of millions of animals who do not want to die, at a fraction of their natural life span.