Sunday, January 27, 2019

That Aussie Farms' map - a vacuous gesture that poses some individual dangers but has no meaning beyond

The creation of an on-line map by a crowd called Aussie Farms has created a degree of outrage.The organisation describes the map in this way:
In development for over 8 years, the Aussie Farms Map is a comprehensive, interactive map of factory farms, slaughterhouses and other animal exploitation facilities across Australia, launched publicly in January 2019. 
This map, linked with the Aussie Farms Repository, is an effort to force transparency on an industry dependent on secrecy. We believe in freedom of information as a powerful tool in the fight against animal abuse and exploitation. 
If you find a facility that hasn't been marked, you can login, right-click the facility on the map and choose to submit it for approval. You can also submit information about any facility already marked, and upload photos, videos and documents relating to that facility.
Aussie Farms describes its mission in this way:
Aussie Farms is an animal rights charity, dedicating to ending commercialised animal abuse and exploitation in Australian animal agriculture facilities by increasing industry transparency and educating the public about modern farming and slaughtering practices. 
Established in 2014 with the release of world-first footage of the carbon dioxide gas chambers used in pig slaughterhouses, Aussie Farms grew from separate campaigns that had been run under various Animal Liberation groups including NSW, ACT and QLD. These campaigns began with Aussie Pigs, and expanded to Aussie Turkeys, Aussie Ducks, Aussie Eggs, Aussie Chickens, Aussie Rabbits and Aussie Abattoirs. Together these websites formed the Aussie Farms network, aimed at countering the myth that animal abuse doesn't happen in Australia or that when it does happen, it's an isolated incident. 
The ever-growing library of material began to prove beyond doubt that animal abuse was not only commonplace, but in fact inherent to industries that exploit or use animals for profit. 
Aussie Farms operates under the belief that these industries rely on secrecy and deception, using marketing ploys such as "humanely slaughtered" and "free range", and imagery depicting happy animals living out their days on rolling green hills in the sunshine; and that by breaking down this secrecy and making it easier for consumers to see the truth about what their purchases support, the commercialised abuse and exploitation of animals will slowly but surely come to an end. We believe that information - freely and readily accessible - is our greatest and most powerful tool. 
Listing farms and facilities that have some connection with animal husbandry including dairying may be a breach of privacy, but does not appear to be illegal in itself. Further, and I will come back to this point in a moment, it is so broad brush in its coverage (on their definitions they need to list a million or so establishments if not more) that the results are vacuous in the extreme. However, the difficulty is that the map comes after a series of targeted attacks by Animal Liberationists on individual producers that have done considerable personal damage. So people are concerned about their personal details being revealed.

I had a look at the map in the areas that I know and it is so lacking in rationale and content as to be absent of meaning. On the New England Tablelands, it gets two municipal sale yards but misses the rest. It picks up the Walcha Dairy, a place that is fine from everything I know, but ignores the rest. Lamb producers in general escape. It gets some feedlots, misses the rest. It gets a few free range producers, a few specialist dairy producers, but misses most. It picks the Dutton trout hatchery that supplies fish for New England streams. Bluntly, it's silly, a publicity stunt designed to attract presently tax deductible donations.

This is not to say that it cannot do damage. Pity the one poor greyhound trainer I identified.

Aussie Farm's objective is to remove all commercial animal husbandry. No chickens, no dairy, no fish, no beef, no pork, no lamb, no mutton, even no wool. I think that they would go further, removing any form of cottage production. They are entitled to work to achieve that objective. But I do think that this map, no matter how silly it may be, is a step too far especially when funded by tax deductible donations. That should stop.      

Postscript 7 April 2019

I have no idea whether this story, Country cafe closes after 'vile' threats and harassment' by vegan activists, is true, I am very cautious about commercial TV news coverage, but it does form part of a pattern that I have been noticing for several years now.


Anonymous said...

According to ABN lookup, "Aussie Farms Inc" is a registered charity, and is exempt for income tax purposes, however it is "Not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts"


Jim Belshaw said...

Thank you kvd. That's very interesting. On the about page just under the statement about its charitable status it has a donate button. Neither there nor on the donate form does it state that donations are tax deductible. I read it as deductible from the context, I imagine most people would, but the formal wording is compliant with your ABN look-up. I should note that I would not argue for removal of their tax exempt status. That gets onto a slippery slope to which there might be no end.

marcellous said...

Slippery slope - yes indeed, Jim, cos then (for example) we'd have to talk about churches.

Takes away from your punch line though.

I expect Animal Liberationists have other sources of information concerning their targets.

I'd say the point of the map is that a broad brush is called for, because cruel treatment of animals for commercial purposes is so prevalent. From the perspective of the map-makers and many others, that would include greyhound training.

Indeed part of your complaint seems to be that the net has not been cast wide enough.

Jim Belshaw said...

mmmmm, marcellous. As a general comment, I would support an inquiry in into charitable status because I think that the current system is introducing real distortions into the economy. This includes FBT tax exemptions.I would include religious institutions although I have a feeling that this might be a second order issue.

My real concern on the slippery slope was not the churches, I didn't even think of them, but the Government's earlier comments about limiting charitable status to groups such as animal welfare groups whose primary function was political agitation. I was cautious about this.

Specifically on the map, it really was a stunt. On their own definitions they should have included all the things I mentioned. And then it would have no meaning. Well, it doesn't now, beyond a few poor greyhound trainers. I await the barricades outside the trout hatchery!

Specifically on the tax issue, my concern was tax deduct ability of deductions. KVD pointed out that they weren't And my point then was that there donation page was misleading.