Gippsland hearings start Inquiry into Farm Trespass laws

Gippsland public hearings for the Victorian parliamentary inquiry to fix farm trespass laws saw local farmers detail the profound impact of farm invasions on their operations this week.

Gippsland farmers and agriculture producers provided evidence to State Parliament’s Economic and Infrastructure Committee on the impact of illegal farm trespass and livestock theft.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath said it was clear the actions of law-breaking activists has had a significant impact on our farmers, their families, businesses, employees and the wider community.

“At the hearing we heard how our farmers and the livestock industry has come under attack by activists, and how farmers have experienced an unjustifiable level of scrutiny and pressure,” Ms Bath said.

“At the Warragul regional hearing John Gommans owner of the Gippy Goat outlined the shocking ‘trial by social media’ he experienced, even though his farming operations had 100 per cent compliance with its regulatory audits and workplace inspections.

“John articulated how the farm invasions also led to the closure of his Gippy Goat café.

“During the Bairnsdale hearing we heard about three incidents of confronting activism against an agriculture industry worker that went unreported.

“A constant theme across both regional hearings was that livestock producers care for their animals and take the issue of animal cruelty seriously as their livelihoods depend on it.”

Ms Bath said agriculture is an incredibly important industry in Gippsland and across regional Victoria, employing thousands of people and it is essential it has better legal protections.

“The Andrews Labor Government must not ignore the calls from our communities for better protection for our farmers,” said Ms Bath.

The Inquiry hearings will continue over the next two months.  The final report into farm trespass laws will be presented to State Parliament in February 2019.