THE Victorian Farmers Federation (VVF) will hold a public meeting in Bendigo on Wednesday, April 24, to discuss proposed animal welfare standards and guidelines.
The draft Australian Animal Welfare Standard and Guidelines have been co-ordinated by Animal Health Australia on behalf of its industry and government members.
The VFF is urging Victorian farmers to make submissions to the public consultation on the guidelines before the May 6 deadline.
The VFF supports the draft guidelines but is concerned animal rights groups such as Animal Liberation Australia and RSPCA will demand further restrictions.
The RSPCA has expressed fear the guidelines will do little to improve farm animal welfare, as they allow farmers to continue to perform procedures such as dehorning, castration, tail docking and mulesing without pain relief on young animals.
“The standards don’t even require sheep and cattle to have daily access to food and water,” RSPCA Australia chief executive Heather Neil said.
“If we accept the standards in their current form, it will be a lost opportunity to make a real difference to the welfare of sheep and cattle on farms.”
But VFF livestock president Ian Feldtmann said Victorian farmers had “nothing to hide”.
“They lead the way in animal welfare and take the utmost care in rearing their animals,” he said.
“It is insulting to hear that animal rights groups think that we farmers would deny animals’ basic needs such as access to clean water and food.”
Mr Feldtmann said it was important for farmers to attend forums held around the state to create an informed view before writing a submission.
“We need our Victorian sheep and cattle producers to stand up and defend their industry,” he said.
VFF will hold the forum at the Bendigo Department of Primary Industries office in Epsom on Wednesday, April 24, from 1.30pm to 3pm.