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Australian pork industry calls for tougher penalties against animal activists illegally filming on farms

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The Australian Pork industry is calling for tougher penalties against animal activists who illegally film on farms.

Australian Pork Limited (APL) chief executive Andrew Spencer said an increase in activity over the past 18 months has seen animal rights activists target properties in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, ABC News reports.

"These activists are illegally entering farms, they're illegally taking footage, they're illegally leaving, in some cases, surveillance devices to spy on people," Spencer said. "Those farm raids have been extremely distressing for the farmers involved, as you could imagine. It's like having your house burgled."

The pork industry said it wants better legal protection for farmers who are being "viciously" defamed by material posted on the internet by animal rights groups.

Spencer argued the aim of these campaigns is not to improve animal handling practices, but to shut down the entire pork industry.

"In some cases we've seen that they actually set up negative shots, they move dead piglets around for example," he said.

APL is calling for a review of trespass, defamation and filming laws, relating to surveillance devices.

"[Current laws] absolutely do not provide a deterrent to these radical anti-animal farming groups," Spencer said. "[Animal rights activists] are prepared to take the risk on the law because they know that it is very weak in being able to hand out penalties."

APL would like to see legislation change to make it easier to prosecute trespasses, as well as to increase penalties.

However, the industry acknowledges that pursuing changes to current laws could generate negative publicity.

"There is absolutely that risk and, as an industry, we have to be as transparent as we possibly can be," Mr Spencer said.

"We will never have done enough, we need to continue to work to make sure that people understand what we are doing, understand our motivations, and understand that we are part of the food industry.

In June last year, Australian Pork released a video questioning the intentions of animal activists and shedding light on its own animal welfare standards.

The video followed recent scrutiny of the Australian food manufacturing's animal welfare standards and questioned the activists’ commitment to animal welfare.

The video said "Animal activists break into a farm, trespass and terrorise pigs at night. They break strict biosecurity protocols, putting the animals' health and wellbeing at risk. If activists were serious about animal welfare they would work with industry."

Image: abc.net.au

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