On Shooting the Messenger

Written By: - Date published: 9:10 am, December 14th, 2015 - 214 comments
Categories: accountability, activism, animal welfare, Economy, Environment, exports, farming, farming, Media, Politics, uncategorized - Tags:

Calf in crateIt is an unfortunate reality that speaking out publicly often has considerable repercussions both for individuals and for organisations. Over the past decade we have seen sophisticated attacks against academics and NGOs who challenge government or industry. These attacks often appear organic in nature, but many times are in fact concerted efforts by the powerful.  I believe that these attacks have a chilling effect on democracy, making it a costly undertaking to speak out against those in power.

Since Farmwatch and SAFE released footage of cruelty within the NZ dairy industry we have been subjected to a sustained and deliberate attack, with attempts to discredit and undermine our work. Publicly the dairy industry has remained friendly, saying they are taking the issues seriously and that they want to work with us to clean their industry up. Privately though, they are saying something very different.

Within minutes of TVNZ’s Sunday expose going to air Farmwatch began receiving hate mail, but as well as this a range of pro-farming Facebook pages instantly appeared, many of them openly targeting SAFE. As an example, one of the most popular ones is “Farmers against SAFE –  We love our animals”. This is the public face the industry wants to portray, with the bulk of posts showing farmers posing with their cows (as if this disproves the footage we found), but these pages also have a more negative side. These pages have contained offensive pictures, comparisons to Hitler and ISIS, abusive messages to financial sponsors, as well as a huge focus on SAFE’s finances.  Sandwiched amongst the happy photos of cows is an undercurrent of hatred towards animal rights activists because of what we exposed. This has escalated to the point where personal contact details have been circulated amongst farmers, many threats of violence have been made, and farmers have talked publicly of trying to track down animal activists.

As disappointed as I was with the vitriol and attacks against us I still hoped that industry bodies were operating in good faith, and focusing on sorting out welfare issues as they claimed. However on Friday 11th December “Farmers against SAFE” posted a letter purported to be from Federated Farmers in which they encourage farmers to sign a petition to get SAFE de-registered as a charity. Puzzlingly within the same email Federated Farmers tell farmers to focus on positive stories and not to be “anti or against anything”. Even within their own communications there is doublespeak going on, claiming the moral high ground while attempting to shut down the organisations who publicised both deliberate and inherent cruelty within their industry.

In a radio interview that same day the Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy engaged in the same ploy saying that farmers are understandably frustrated and have taken their outrage to social media as a result. He said pages had been set up called “caring for animals” and “proud to be a farmer,” neglecting to mention that a key purpose of these pages is to attack SAFE. Nathan Guy also said that we sat on footage for two years, insinuating that we had prevented the investigation of animal abuse. The minister is attempting to come across as concerned about animal welfare but is doing his best to undermine the credibility of this investigation and is supporting those who are more explicitly attacking us.

Ironically there are two opposed attack lines being used by MPI, Dairy NZ and Nathan Guy – first that we are ‘mis-representing the industry’ – and second that we are holding onto footage for ‘our own purposes’.  Therefore as an investigator I am in an impossible position – I can either gather enough evidence to prove that abuse is widespread or I can hand over the first, tiniest scrap of evidence – I cannot do both.

That we are not acting fast enough has become a ubiquitous line of attack with industry leaders saying that we are “hugely irresponsible” for not immediately going to the authorities with what we found.New Zealand’s Special Agricultural Trade Envoy Mike Peterson has taken this position to the extreme, calling SAFE’s actions “grossly irresponsible” and saying that we should hand over footage “within hours of obtaining it”. Requiring investigators to hand over footage immediately is akin to requiring police to go and arrest someone the moment they have the smallest piece of evidence against them. Coming from the top these fallacious arguments have fed through onto social media with thousands of farmers repeating these ad hominem attacks.

The small amount of footage that we filmed in the 2014 calving season was standard, common practice and was filmed from the side of the road. The crate of calves left out for hours, dying in the sun, was on a busy rural road for all to see. The few instances we filmed of calves being loaded onto trucks occurred in public on the side of the road. If we had reported these instances to MPI we would have been laughed at. Indeed the inspector I am working with at MPI has said that the 2014 footage (which the minister was so concerned about) is a “low priority” and that they have not begun looking into it.

This year we did come across extreme abuse at a small slaughterhouse which we thought was urgent and occurring in private, and as a result we made the decision to cut our investigation short and hand footage of this over to MPI. We believe MPI didn’t take this seriously until several months later when media coverage and nationwide outrage forced them to take action. The minister has placed a much higher burden on activists than his own ministry in respect of taking immediate action regarding this abuse, given that MPI did not intervene immediately or even within a reasonable period of time. When I asked about this delay, I was told by an MPI inspector that they had spent over two months gaining legal advice about the prospects of using the footage in court. If the minister is so concerned about people sitting on footage should they not have intervened immediately after we contacted them to prevent further abuse occurring?

Amongst all of this it must be remembered that Farmwatch is a handful of volunteers who do not have the resources that MPI and the dairy industry have. Our investigators have poured thousands of dollars of our own money into buying the equipment we use. How is it that a car full of part-time volunteers can find such widespread abuse and the industry apparently be entirely unaware of what is going on? TVNZ journalist Ian Sinclair described the situation well when he asked Fonterra’s Miles Hurrell “If a bunch of enthusiasts with a camera managed to pick all of that up, whereas a main player in a $15 billion industry didn’t, what went wrong for Fonterra?”

It is also worth pointing out that Farmwatch was very busy in 2014 exposing cruelty in pig farms across the country. The Minister reacted angrily against us then too for not coming to MPI sooner and promised immediate action. Shortly after this expose screening I was back on a pig farm retrieving a hidden camera, the shocking footage we obtained showed a pig being beaten to death. Mindful of the Minister’s attack when we saw what was on the camera we decided to hand the footage over immediately. Despite contacting MPI before I had even had a chance to sleep properly it took months for MPI  to quietly announce that no prosecutions would be taken. Afterwards I wrote about MPI’s failure to take action against any of the farms we exposed last year and what I believe were deliberate lies in order to discredit me.

John Key has also joined in on the attacks accusing SAFE of “economic sabotage”. Writing about the attacks by the Prime Minister on SAFE, Dr Margalit Toledano points out that the use of language such as treason is dangerous as: “Traitors are traditionally punished by the death sentence. Using such delegitimising labels might result in violent responses, or in silencing of important critical voices.” While I cannot hold the Prime Minister or industry leaders responsible for the threats of harm we are receiving I do believe they are feeding these attacks by the way they seek to portray us.

As well as directly targeting Farmwatch and SAFE, farmers are also going after those who support us. The Facebook page “People against SAFE” who are responsible for the anti-SAFE petition recently gloated about forcing a small company to stop donating to SAFE. The business owner said they were suspending donations to SAFE because her “staff were getting upset” due to the abusive messages they had received, she said to pass this message on to whoever had been spreading the name of her business around. These sorts of attacks against SAFE have been occurring for years but are becoming increasingly targeted and now have thousands of supporters funneled to them by industry leaders.

Animal rights activists are not the only ones who are the victims of sustained attacks by the agricultural industry. Environmental scientist Mike Joy has come under similar attack for pointing out the degradation of our waterways is caused in large part by the dairy industry. Cameron Slater who is often used as a mouthpiece for industry has gone so far as to say he should be “taken out and shot at dawn”. Like us Mike Joy has had his findings dismissed by the prime-minister as unrepresentative and has also been accused of economic treason.

I have no problem with farmers trying to present their side of the story, but what is going on is far beyond that. Farmers, the Minister and at least one industry body are engaged in underhanded attacks aimed at destroying our credibility and are trying to weaken SAFE financially. Rather than focusing on cleaning up their act they are engaging in a concerted PR offensive. In the previously mentioned letter Federated Farmers say that “the combined industry response” has included “regular conference calls and discussions on this subject since we first found out about the programme 5 days prior to it airing”. I believe that through these conference calls the industry has developed a two-pronged strategy – to publicly say they want to work with Farmwatch and SAFE and privately to do whatever is in their power to prevent us from surviving long enough to expose abuse in future. The petition calling for the removal of SAFE’s charitable status now has over 10,00 signatures – something which would cause any charity to assess the cost of speaking out in future.

As a society we benefit from NGOs and activists being able to speak freely about issues which are of major concern to communities/society. To allow those in power to threaten to shoot the messenger, whether literally or figuratively, is to accept that many important issues will not be raised. I believe that the Minister must be held to higher standards and that farmers and the dairy industry should focus on addressing the abuse we found, rather than attacking those who uncovered this abuse.

214 comments on “On Shooting the Messenger”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    An armed group (farmers) making political death threats.

    There’s a name for that sort of behaviour…it’s on the tip of my tongue…

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      Starts with T and ends with M.

    • jdarroch 1.2

      Haha I’m very wary of using the rhetoric of terrorism – all too often it is used by the state to crack down on the freedoms which allow us to engage in political activism. I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to accuse farmers of terrorism!

      • Judi 1.2.1

        jdarroch, it is Cameron Slater and the prime minister and their cohorts who are threatening death and accusing others of terrorism

    • Toni 1.3

      I love how this article is about them getting attacked, what about the farmers that have been told by activists to go hang themselves?
      What about the farmers who wore there gumboots to town to get told they should die?
      There have been enough suicides through the pay out drop as it is this year without telling people to.
      These have been reported to police and these activists have happily basked in the glory of making a person attempt suicide.
      That alone is low, disgusting and something no nz’er wishes on there loved ones.
      Safe need to be revoked.

      • mickysavage 1.3.1

        Interesting this post is getting a huge number of hits right now. Feels like Fed Farm is pushing for comments. Stand by for various diversionary efforts and people claiming that farmers are the victims here and not the villains.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.3.2

        Safe need to be revoked.

        I missed the part where you demonstrated their wrongdoing. For all you know, it was Ewen McDonald who abused the gumboot wearer.

        Thankfully, the Charities Commission are not a bunch of whinging cockies with no personal responsibility.

    • Farmer on the edge 1.4

      SAFE didn’t expose anything. Actually yes they did. I stand corrected. They filmed 12 farms. 0.1% of the total farms in nz. They found one bad apple and they are tainting the whole industry for the sake of donations.

      There is no intent to do anything for the welfare of animals. It’s all for lining their pockets and using terrorist style tactics to do so.

      Making emotionally charged videos to play on the emotions and purse strings of the general public. To the point that people in Gumboots (not even farmers) get spat at in the street and abused for killing calves.

      I wonder if they ever stopped to consider the toll it takes on farmers and their families? They complain about hate mail, but what about the farmers that will take their own lives, because of the damage done to the industry and the effect it will have on the milk price and farmer income. Are human lives an acceptable collateral for a one sided, inaccurate, sensationalist piece of propaganda aimed at raising funds for SAFE?

      [lprent: I’d have to say that you have some VERY strange ideas about what “terrorist style tactics” are.

      Farmwatch and SAFE film practices where people neglect, injure or kill animals inhumanely. They then publicize and/or lay complaints about the practices that they find reprehensible and which are often against the law. These are the actions of responsible citizens usually operating within the bounds of the law, and certainly within the bounds of whistle blowing. You are at liberty to lay complaints with the police about anything that you think that they did that was unlawful. So far I haven’t heard of anything happening with regard to that, so I suspect that you are just a blowhard idiot.

      Personally I’d say that the terrorist style tactics come from the inhuman arseholes that neglect, injure or kill animals inhumanely. In the absence of anyone else apparently doing much about monitoring farming practices (the MPI appears to be a joke), many people support voluntary organisations doing it – including me.

      However I’d also suggest that on this site you do not make assertions of fact like your second and third paragraphs unless you can back them up with a credible link or source. Otherwise express your opinions, but make it clear that they are your opinions. I have no particular wish to spend time in court because of some stupid dickhead making false allegations of ‘fact’ on our site. I react by stopping fools from commenting here who leave us at a legal risk.

      I’d suggest you read the policy and learn to follow our rules on our site. Perhaps you should consider that. ]

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.4.1

        We agree then, that threatening violence, or urging self-harm, are reprehensible activities. Possibly not as reprehensible as the cruelty shown to bobby calves, and vile nonetheless.

        Have SAFE or Farmwatch advocated either of these things? Nope. Perhaps some individuals have, although we’ll have to take your word for it since you don’t seem to do links.

        It’s quite clear from the state of our rivers that farmers are prepared to sacrifice a lot more than bobby calves. The industry needs a clean-out of Herculean proportions. In these circumstances, public opprobrium is inevitable.

        Where’s the personal responsibility. Are you all going to pretend you didn’t know this was happening?

  2. Gosman 2

    NGO with hidden agenda attacks country’s main export earner and stirs up opposition. Why are you surprised?

    [lprent: What hidden agenda? They have been absolutely consistent for more than a decade that I have been aware of them. They work to prevent cruelty and death of animals.

    You on the other hand appear to have a hidden agenda, since you didn’t explain what the “hidden agenda” was, and have history of doing those kinds of stupid smears. Basically you have the piss-poor morals and nonexistent ethics of a John Key.

    I’m getting really tired of that arsehole trolling tactic. Banned for 6 days. I’ll start escalating as I see it happening. ]

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1

      No-one is surprised when the Centre-Right starts making death threats: it’s a perfect expression of everything you represent.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1

        +1

      • Gosman 2.1.2

        I’d suggest you have no hard evidence linking the persons in question to any right leaning political grouping or to myself. I would like to draw attention to this fact to the moderators.

        [lprent: Why? He just rather pointably used your smear tactic on you. Apparently you don’t like it any more than I do. Ther eis a reason why your names marks a rule about hypocrisy in our policy. ]

        • McFlock 2.1.2.1

          I’d suggest you take a careful look at how you define “stirs up opposition”, and maybe qualify your original statement.

    • reason 2.2

      Gosman supports cruelty and suffering if there is money to be made …….. this will surprise zero people

      That Nathan Guy is a dishonest animal cruelty apologist ……………. zero surprise.

      John key calling scientist who speak the truth as engaging in ‘economic sabotage’ …………….. zero …….surprise.

      The truth to the nats is like sunlight to a vampires ……

      Dirty two faced politics is their default position ………………

      • Gosman 2.2.1

        I have not expressed any opinion about animal cruelty either on this thread or any others that are related to this topic. You may as well claim that I want to boil little children alive if you are going to make stuff up about people’s views.

        • Steve Withers 2.2.1.1

          I think if you – as in you – attack a group that has a long history of working to eliminate animal cruelty for exposing……um…..animal cruelty, and you, yourself, make no comment on the central issue (animal cruelty)….then there will be people who will conclude your priorities are to attack those who expose the wrong…….and that for you the wrong isn’t a priority (as you hadn’t mentioned it, given the opportunity and the context).

          Sometimes, it isn’t what you say that says the most. It’s the way you say it….or the things you left out.

          You might not like that….but it’s unavoidable if one makes no attempt to avoid it.

      • Gosman 2.3.1

        Perhaps less hidden and more not entirely open. They quite obviously have a Vegan or at least a Vegetarian agenda. They are right to point out animal welfare concerns but they are wrong to use these as a campaign against animal farming in general or to imply the NZ farming industry has a systemic problem with animal welfare.

        • Sacha 2.3.1.1

          I’m pretty sure when the post author says “inherent” he means some animal suffering is inevitable in corporate farming for slaughter in any case. I imagine that’s where the vegan thing would fit in. It does not surprise me at all.

        • jdarroch 2.3.1.2

          Hey Gosman I am in fact a vegan and Farmwatch makes no attempt to hide the fact that we are advocating a vegan diet – it’s on our front page: http://www.farmwatch.org.nz/

          The reason I’m vegan is because I believe that consuming animals causes suffering – it’s deep, genuine, concern about this suffering that motivates us to try and gain change for these animals.

          But I don’t expect everyone to come to the same conclusion as me, and I’m quite happy to campaign on issues which the public are concerned about even if they don’t go as far as I would like in my ideal world. For example most New Zealander’s are opposed to factory farming – a lot of this opposition stems from investigations I have been part of over the past 7 or 8 years. Ideally I would like people to give up animal products altogether but if all the public want are welfare improvements that still helps animals so is something I think is worthwhile. This willingness to accept compromise means I am hated by some vegans who think I’m a sell out.

          Can’t win can you 😉

          • weka 2.3.1.2.1

            Now that’s a vegan perspective I can respect.

            • Ad 2.3.1.2.1.1

              Christ I miss bacon.

              • lprent

                Yeah. After having Rochelle looking through her footage taken on chicken farms and pig farms at my place when she was a teen, I gave up on chicken meat entirely as just being too frigging dangerous. Eggs and pork or any kind including bacon, I only get from very trusted suppliers. I interrogate cafe’s cooks about supply. Even with beef, I tend to be very finicky these days.

                There are just some really appalling farmers out there and after seeing the footage that is available, I think that most (ie the good) farmers will be glad that they tend to eat their own.

                Unfortunately for townies here and overseas, we have no easy way to take that level of control of our food chain. So we fund organisations like SAFE and even the SPCA running it’s severely limited prosecutions, and rail at the idiots in MAF who can’t protect our food.

          • Bob 2.3.1.2.2

            jdarroch – I admire your commitment to animal welfare, but one thing that falls down with Vegans like yourself claiming “The reason I’m vegan is because I believe that consuming animals causes suffering – it’s deep, genuine, concern about this suffering that motivates us to try and gain change for these animals” is the fact they are simply humanising animals and putting their well-being ahead of those of plants.
            Plants also grow, reproduce and can possibly even smell, feel and communicate: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-plants-think-daniel-chamovitz/
            A huge number of people do feel strongly about Plant welfare (as shown in Titirangi http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/74991714/west-auckland-kauri-tree-gets-support-from-helen-clark) but their efforts are in-part being ruined by people like you who seem to think plants are fine to kill.
            Or do you support the efforts in Titirangi and believe Trees are far more deserving of respect than Lettuces for example?

            I support what Farmwatch have done by releasing this footage (they had no further course of action due to various parties inaction), but I don’t support them using this as a way of pushing Veganism when Vegans are often deficient in B12, Creatine, amino acids, carnosine and DHA due to their poor dietary choices.

            • lprent 2.3.1.2.2.1

              …when Vegans are often deficient in B12, Creatine, amino acids, carnosine and DHA due to their poor dietary choices.

              You are wrong. I had exactly this discussion with my vegan niece when she became vegan as a teenager and when she was doing NCEA 1 under my supervision.

              To be precise, what I said was that due to the variety of dietary needs that could not be produced by the humans when either gestating a child and as the child was growing. It took her nearly 6 months to assemble enough information to demonstrate to me that in fact you could get all of the required dietary needs as a vegan. It requires assembling a pretty varied diet and probably more work than just eating meat, eggs, and dairy. But it isn’t hard in our consumer led society.

              As you’re aware, I’m a pretty hard person to convince on almost anything. Never more so when it comes to affecting family health. She has been vegan ever since. So has her son, at least until he reaches the age of being able to cast aside his parent’s control :twisted:.

          • lmcgough 2.3.1.2.3

            I have a lot of respect for your comment this whole issue is made worse by two bull headed sides that do not want to compromise for the welfare of the animals.
            this might make me hated but I am a dairy farmer and I do care about my animals I cry over sending bobby calves and all of my cows are individuals with their own personalitys I hate to send them away and if I can I will re-home them instead.
            as an industry we have to tow the line and this footige shows we are falling short of this those that are not up to scratch need to be towed in to line so that its 100% not 99% doing the right thing by their stock.

        • Steve Withers 2.3.1.3

          NZ farming does have a systemic problem with animal welfare. I’ve seen the calves in the crates along the roadside. Then there are the “slinkies” – calves aborted late enough that the cow’s milk has come in.

          I’ve lived in rural areas. There are good farmers who look after their stock…and then there are the other sort. They are there in every town and village from one end of NZ to the other to greater and lesser degrees.

          It is right to expose the bad sorts…be they farmers or processors. If the industry has grown used to turning a blind eye….then the industry now has good reason to stop doing that.

          SAFE is doing a great job. I donate frequently. I’ve seen with my own eyes some of what they are protesting about.

          Why are you slagging off people who have exposed unacceptable practices? You can’t be surprised when people come after you for being so incredibly one-eyed. You haven’t even mentioned the calves. Not a word.

          • Tracey 2.3.1.3.1

            GOsman exhibits al the signs of someone who believes tha nothing shold stop the sursuit of making money. Even it seems, when it is totally lawful (as in the case of SAFE’s actions).

            Where is the outcry of farmers at how these so-called small numbers have tainted their industry. Where is the campaign to rid the industry of all such farmers, a campaign urgning neighbours to dob in a cruel farmer? Where is the call to action to charge the offenders. I note one or two were no longer wokring in those roles (fromt he videos) BUT where are the charges being laid?

            • Rosie 2.3.1.3.1.1

              “Where is the outcry of farmers at how these so-called small numbers have tainted their industry. Where is the campaign to rid the industry of all such farmers, a campaign urgning neighbours to dob in a cruel farmer? Where is the call to action to charge the offenders. I note one or two were no longer wokring in those roles (fromt he videos) BUT where are the charges being laid?”

              +1. Exactly Tracey

        • Puddleglum 2.3.1.4

          They quite obviously have a Vegan or at least a Vegetarian agenda.

          But, as I understand it, the veganism stems from ethical concerns – i.e., concerns over animal welfare (rather than, for example, concerns over their health).

          So veganism is not hidden but part of the open agenda, isn’t it? (i.e., to maximise animal welfare).

        • Tracey 2.3.1.5

          What would a LIbertarian think? No law broken. Freedom of speech and let the market bear the brunt of its on inability to self regulate? Nothing claimed by SAFE has been proven false. Nothing shown by Industry that it has tried in any way to stop that behaviour, track it or punish it.

          You have painted them with a very braod brush while condemning them for painting others with a broad brush.

        • Louise 2.3.1.6

          Actually, SAFE represents many people who believe in animal welfare, not all of whom are vegetarian or vegan. I’m not (admittedly I don’t eat farmed meat as I’m not comfortable with how it gets to the table) for starters. If they did, however, is that a problem? The health ministry should be on the bandwagon getting people to eat less animal products too!

    • grumpystilskin 2.4

      Hidden agenda?
      I think it’s very obvious what they stand for.

    • DH 2.5

      “NGO with hidden agenda ”

      What hidden agenda would that be Gosman? Are you making shit up or do you have proof of this agenda?

      • jdarroch 2.5.1

        We’re so bad at hiding it that the fact we are a vegan organisation is on our front page! http://www.farmwatch.org.nz/

        Lucky we are better at hiding our cameras than we are at hiding our ideology 😉

        • Sam 2.5.1.1

          Why do the calves in that photo have no tags in their ears? Obviously not going for slaughter as Bobby calves. Staged footage?

          • lprent 2.5.1.1.1

            I’ve been around farms a lot over the decades. I have never seen any ear tags in the ears of bobby calves.

            Unsurprisingly DairyNZ seems to have never seen the practice of tagging bobby calves either.

            I’d class you as just a stupid urban fool. Perhaps you should have an eartag so others know who to avoid. Tag yourself as “stupid nutter”.

            • b waghorn 2.5.1.1.1.1

              I would be very surprised if bobbies aren’t tagged as we did when I was a milking cows 20 odd years ago. We only put them in as they were due to go.
              Traceability is everything in farming incase someone sends in stock with antibiotic residues.

              • lprent

                Perhaps they are sending it to somewhere that doesn’t care. Have you actually seen the footage that SAFE took?

                • b waghor

                  Yes a dog tucker factory my not need tags.
                  I’ve seen enough to know that their are some bad operaters out there , but safe choosing to use the nuclear option of going global has caused the shit storm they should of expected.

            • jeans 2.5.1.1.1.2

              yes all bobby calves have to be tagged so that they can trace on where the meat came from its been this way for the last 7 years since the processing factory wants to keep record because every calf get tested for any sicknesses and antibiotics in there system

              • lprent

                Ok, I haven’t been on farms for the 15 years since my folks sold up (seems like yesterday). Practices may have changed. It certainly wasn’t the practice when I was working on town supply, or when I was at dairy farms later on.

                Let me rephrase that. Bearing in mind the practices that SAFE visually documented in the meat works and on the bobby boxes, I’d say that the practice of tagging and checking the health of bobby calves isn’t widely spread or enforced.

                If this is a MAF requirement, then I suspect that the inspectors haven’t been doing their job. If it is a requirement from some meat works, then I’d love to see it spread wider. However I also suspect that the seedier meatworks managed to gain a competitive advantage from it. Calves are a real pain to tag especially when momma in within earshot.

                What are the better meatworks going to do about lifting the standard?

                • RowT

                  Yes Iprent as you admit your info is out of date. This is frustrating as many historical practices are withering or have gone but the industry is still being judged for them. For example tail docking, inductions and dehorning. The first 2 are completely gone and the last one is getting better with most cockies using local. It is not required and I would agree that this needs to be addressed.

                • Kelly

                  Small pet food companies don’t always require ear tags. One of these places is in the Waikato (I saw an advert for it a couple of months ago where they stated quite clearly that no ear tags are needed) which I believe is where the footage was shot? I suspect the un-tagged calves in the tractor crate may have been going there, or to a similar small pet food company.

              • joe90

                yes all bobby calves have to be tagged

                Nope.

                The only exemption is for calves less than 30 days old going direct to a meat processor (bobby calves), with a direct to slaughter tag issued by the meat processor. These animals do not need a NAIT tag.

                http://nait.co.nz/manage-animals/calving/

                • Tarns

                  You’re incorrect. All Bobby calves must be tagged with direct to slaughter tags as supplied by the meat processor. It’s only NAIT tags they are exempt from, as stated in your supposedly supporting link. Different type of tag all together.

            • Stacy McNaught 2.5.1.1.1.3

              I cannot see where they say that they have never seen the practice of tagging calves?
              To correct your assumption that you appear to have made, all bobby calves must be tagged with the processing companies tags. When you agree to send you calves to a particular processor you get issued with a pack of tags. Also they are checked for welfare “issues” at the other end, so they need to know where the animal came from to ensure traceability. There is also no other way for the payment to be made for the correct weight and quality of the calf at the other end otherwise.
              You will likely be correct when it comes to bobby calves going to the smaller and less commonly used pet food processors (like the one portrayed in SAFE’s fundraising video published the Sunday program) though as they are paid on a fixed price (generally significantly less money than the main meat works) so a simple tally system by the truck driver would suffice.

              • lprent

                They mention every other aspect of how farmers should treat bobby calves. Why not that one?

                Perhaps it is because there is absolutely no reason financially or legally to tag bobby calves. Tags cost time and money to put on and track. Mostly the farmers are more interested in sending them away so they don’t distract the cows.

                Have you ever seen bobby calves tagged? Send us a photo of this rare event.

                • CR

                  I picked up and transported some bobbies for a neighbour in August.

                  They were tagged with NAITS, I’ve just checked the photos I took of them at the time.

                  They were 14 day olds, well treated, housed in covered yards when I picked them up and same at the other end, and not going to slaughter.

                  Neither farmer I dealt with was anything like what we saw on that footage – which was appalling, sad, horrible, and indefensible.

                  • lprent

                    Ah. I never doubted that there are good farmers and lousy ones.

                    Dug it out… Looks like your farmer was doing something that they didn’t need to do.
                    http://nait.co.nz/tag/ (my italics)

                    Exemptions

                    1. Cattle and deer which the farmer considers too dangerous to tag do not need a NAIT tag if they are going directly to a meat processor. A levy of $13 per head excluding GST applies to these animals.
                    2. Calves less than 30 days old going directly to a meat processor (bobby calves), with a direct to slaughter tag issued by the meat processor, do not need a NAIT tag.
                    3. Deer born before 1 March 2013 have three years in which to be tagged, unless they move off farm. Exemptions for pre NAIT deer end on 1 March 2016.
                    4. Trophy stags that are going to a game estate, safari park or zoo do not need a NAIT tag.
                    5. Fallow deer are exempt from NAIT tagging.

                    You still need a NAIT number even if a tagging exemption applies to your animals.

                    Looks like things have improved slightly since I spent a lot of time on farms. Clearly from the footage from SAFE and other animals rights groups over the last decade, it still has a way to go.

                    Personally I think it’d be excellent if more of that indignation expressed at SAFE was pointed out the useless farmers and the pathetic inspectors.

                    • CR

                      Yes, these calves were going to be raised as Bulls. The NAIT system was made compulsory in July, it’s been a bit confusing, still new.

                      I agree that the response from MPI was completely inadequate.

                    • RowT

                      Nait tags and bobby tags are different beasts. Bobby tags are a meat processor requirement. Ive explained why in other posts. I wish I knew how to link relevent posts because as much as I think this interaction is potentially valuable i am struggling to find time to participate. Yes I am an overworked and under rewarded dairy farmer who is short of time, I also have children hahaha

                    • lprent []

                      I figured out the NAIT/tags a while back. However I overwork as a software engineer who specializes in exporting, who also is a volunteer sysop / moderator / and occasional contributor for this site, I’m often unable to follow up on comments. It usually depends on if I’m in country and / or on a NZ time schedule and/or how much code vs design vs installation vs meetings I’ve done during the day.

                      Commenting tends to be about the lowest in my priority queue and usually done when I’m moderating. I like to reflect my impression of the tone of other people’s comments back at them, enhancing it to be from another viewpoint and both being quite personal and more extreme. I find this has a salutary effect on future commenting and is preferable to issuing warnings or bans.

                    • Tiro

                      Tag or no ear tags :
                      AC pet Foods Waikato region:
                      We want your bobby calves : no tags required !

                • Sam

                  Nait tags are not bobby calf tags that are required by the processors. As Stacey says – it is an export meat processors requirement. You receive a list of tag numbers on your payment document. You are paid according to the tags recorded. You say you have been out of the industry for 15years – sounds like your attitude to farming is based on experiences 15 years ago. That you aren’t aware of meat processing companies requirements for tags shows that you really need to get up to speed with current day modern practices. That goes someway to explain some of the farmer outrage – also your media reports in the UK say that it was farmers throwing calves down on to the concrete when it is clearly being done at the slaughterhouse, and not by farmers. Some of the UK comments even refer to this anomaly – so once again SAFE haven’t considered the facts and were just all about getting at the dairy industry in bad light.

                  Pushing the ‘calves being ripped from their mothers’ aspect also has not done SAFE any good in the credibility stakes in the UK. People accept the hard reality that animals get taken from their mothers. Is is better to take it at one day old or leave it like some other livestock industries do, and take it from them at months – after the mother and small animal have bonded?

                  SAFE bagging the industry and all the while refusing the meet with the industry before the screening of the footage, registered as a surprise on the Sunday reporter. What did SAFE have to loose meeting before the screening?

                  • lprent

                    So have you looked at the footage? Do you approve of the handling techniques?

                    If you don’t, then what are you going to do about it.

                    • Sam

                      I don’t live on a farm. I certainly don’t approve of what I saw. But then again saying it was a farmer treating the calves badly at the slaughterhouse in international press will never get you my support, If you had reported things accurately – that it was slaughterhouse staff, not farmers you would have had more credibility. I am a regular visitor to farms and help out at times.

                  • sam – so the cows following/chasing the trailers, whilst bellowing loudly and continuously, filled with their calves is somehow kind??? because they would react so much worse if the calves were older??? What a load of apologist shit mate – at least have the guts to be honest.

                    • Sam

                      It is a way to get cows out of the paddock instead of having to chase them or round them up with dogs. They need to be milked otherwise they will develop mastitis as they have too much milk for one calf. Not all cows bellow and some cows won’t even mother their calves. So what is your solution to removing the cows from the paddock? Don’t just criticize – offer your solution otherwise your comment in nothing more than a rant based on ignorance.

                    • lol regular visitor to farms who knows little. I’ve WORKED on a farm not visited it and I know exactly why the cows are bellowing – their calves have just been taken off them, that’s why.

                    • Sam

                      In reply to your comment below – just because I don’t live on a farm now doesn’t mean I haven’t owned a farm in the past. 😉

                    • sure sam – the argument is done I suspect – our minds won’t meet. Have a good festive season where ever you are.

                • Stacy McNaught

                  I have personally tagged thousands over my career. They are called “direct for slaughter” tags. http://www.allflex.co.nz/official_tags_slaughter.htm

                  I think the following comments cover off the rest of what I would reply.

                  Thank you for your insight, although a tad sarcastic, incorrect none the less.

            • R & T Watson 2.5.1.1.1.4

              we have been dairy farmers for 47years, & yes you do have to ear tag your bobby calves & they have to be 30kg or more & to have been fed before pickup!

            • RowT 2.5.1.1.1.5

              Iprent Im flabergasted you have never seen ear tags in bobby calves. I have worked on 7 dairy farms in the last 15 years and every single one of them had to tag the bobbies. Trucks will not pick them up and if they did the farmer wouldnt get paid as the tags trace back to individual farms for a variety of reasons including payment, food quality issues and animal welfare issues (eg farmers presenting calves which are unfit for slaughter). If it is true that DairyNZ has never heard of this practice then pigs fly – they can now they arent in crates.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                RowT that’s the problem with relying on personal experience as evidence of something: a simple Google search proves you wrong and your credibility falls over:

                No tags required…

                • RowT

                  Once again OAD you display one sided ‘evidence’, faulty logic and poor reading skills. You say my 100% observation of Bobbies needing to be tagged is not evidence, yet SAFE can ‘prove’ systemic animal abuse by presenting same limited number of observations. Talk about selective.

                  You have found ONE minor processor web site who doesn’t need tags. Big deal – most farmers supply bigger companies like Silver Ferns who do require tags for the reasons I mentioned. Again you are being selective. Plus you ignored their other requirements which advocate animal welfare. You are the one with no credibility. You Can not base your case on your experience so you select the evidence to suit yourself. Please contribute more stellar intellectual objectivity, its illuminating.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Not one sided, just enough to undermine your argument. Are you going to take personal responsibility for spreading false information or are you going to whinge and whine about the existence of facts?

                    Lprent was right, and you? You’re just going to have to stay “flabbergasted” 😆

  3. JNZ 3

    Where did he say he was surprised? Disappointment is not the same thing.

    However, it’s in all our interests to note, again, how whistleblowers are treated when they report against the powerful. Especially if you’re ever in the position of making real change.

  4. Sanctuary 4

    MPI has either been so gutted by cuts it can no longer do its job effectively or been so colonised by political appointees it doesn’t want to do its job. Either way, it amounts to a diary sector that routinely – and usually successfully – ignores the law with government connivance. There is a term for that – corruption.

    If our state organs of regulation are so withered, dessicated and decadent as to be ineffective in the face of lawless exceptionalism in the dairy sector, then the ONLY method to effect change is to hurt the farming sector in it’s export markets. If I were SAFE, I wouldn’t bother with MPI anymore, I’d take footage straight to CNN, the BBC, the Guardian.

    Then I’ll bet the house the government will up the ante and try and invoke anti-terrorism laws to control democratic political dissent that affects the greed-crazed dairy sector.

    • madtom 4.1

      Using anti-terrorism powers? That’s even scarier than my first worry: They might copy US legislation in the “ag-gag” and “food defamation” vein. Like the law that brought Oprah Winfrey into court in Texas to defend herself rather expensively against potentially very expensive penalties if found guilty of food defamation for saying on air how she would eat no more hamburgers (or similar).

      When these laws are criticized as violating free speech, they are defended as necessary protection of legal or essential industries, privacy, private property, and employer rights. In some cases they merely define a tort that gives grounds for a lawsuit, and in others they make it an outright crime to publicly disclose what is discovered on private property or learned in the course of employment.

      We know the Nats can and have found excuses for legislation that violates human rights. Should we be thinking ahead about political counter-moves and precautions that potential victims can take?

  5. BM 5

    Artificial milk is going to destroy the NZ milk industry, it’s just a matter of time.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/business/how-synthetic-milk-may-put-cows-out-of-business-1.2222468

    • Tracey 5.1

      Until it actually is most of the way through destroying the industry we sholdn’t do anything, right BM?

      • BM 5.1.1

        Not at all.
        If anything what happened with Safe should be a massive walk up call to the industry.

        Dairy has become associated with animal cruelty and huge environmental pollution,this is going to cause serious marketing/PR issues going forward.

        If the dairy industry wants to still be around in a couple of decades it seriously needs to get its arse into gear and clean up its act.

        • Tracey 5.1.1.1

          And yet, that is your attitude to dealing with Climate Change BM, wait until it is actually significantly (in a way you accept) before putting time or money into addressing it.

  6. Reality 6

    Thank you for your courage to speak out about what the powerful dairy apologists are up to. Disgraceful behaviour on their part. I’m ashamed that this happens in New Zealand.

  7. Ad 7

    JDarroch, this apparently is the level of your resourcing:

    “Farmwatch is a handful of volunteers who do not have the resources that MPI and the dairy industry have.”

    What the hell were you thinking? That the largest set of industries and companies in New Zealand would be friendly? That the weak and virtuous win? You have a crack with a little snippet of video and think the whole of agribusiness immediately agrees with you?

    This is the core of National’s regional support and donor base. Figure it out. Free Speech is a serious contact sport – it’s the loudest and most bloody form of the contest of ideas.

    Whether you are weak or strong as an organization, you are going to be counter-attacked if you attack. Seriously, you need to be as strong as Greenpeace or Forest and Bird if you are going to take on the big guys. Stop complaining.

    • JNZ 7.1

      “Complaining”?

      This is a description of the protectionist response from an industry that is almost as bad to its human employees as its animal victims, and the government that profits from “don’t look over here”.

      It’s in the public interest. If it weren’t reported here by those in the know, where would you hear about it?

      • Ad 7.1.1

        Wilful lack of thinking about the industrial and political response to a hit is summarized in the word “complaining”. What they are doing is the New Zealand industrial equivalent of Snowden taking on the US security complex.

        This ain’t the moment you weep about your bruises. This is the moment a savvy campaign brings out its next bunch of evidence. If it ain’t ready they will get burned, trashed and forgotten in the media faster than they can blink.

        • marty mars 7.1.1.1

          They have been countered by the lobby but that doesn’t mean the campaign is misguided or not going according to plan. In fact it seems to me the actions have highlighted abuse and gained traction against that abuse in the public mind. To weep about the bruises is actually okay in my book – it attracts other likeminded people and disgusts others, it shows the truth and also shows the bullies for what they are.

        • JNZ 7.1.1.2

          I note you’re avoiding my questions in lieu of further belittling language. Do you think if you repeat this is “weeping” or “complaining” often enough, that will make it true?

          You’re simply reacting, in ignorance of current plans and past successes against the big guys, and as such, your comments are valueless.

    • Lynley Tulloch 7.2

      AD , let me tell you what animal rights activists are thinking since you seem inclined to ask the question.
      They are thinking :
      1. Why in a country that claims to have one of the highest welfare standards in teh world are we breaching the welfare standards of calves to such a deplorable level? Why do we stand by and say nothing while they suffer such indignities and such violence in their extremely shortened lives?
      2. Why in a country that claims to ‘love’ animals is speaking up for their right to life and their right to kind treatment by the humans that interact with them seen as an ‘attack’?
      3. Why in a country that claims to be a democracy are activists who speak out against such abuses publicly threatened ? Why must they be told they are a ‘national disgrace’ and engaging in ‘treason’?

      I find your sentence ” you have a crack with a little snippet of video and thing the whole of agribusiness immediately agrees with you” unsettling. This is not just a little snippet. It was a video demonstrating that under the current system, a mere snapshot into the lives of the dairy industry and all their players reveals horrific and nightmarish abuse of innocents. That you can even begin to minimize this speaks volumes.

      Free speech is not a contact sport. Rather it is a democratic principle, and one that as citizens we should be able to engage in without fear for out lives. Otherwise it is not ‘free speech’. It costs.

      • Ad 7.2.1

        Obviously free speech costs. Costs effort, money, reputation and time.
        It should, because it’s immensely powerful.

        And so if anyone wants to turn into an activist, they (plural) should have the resources to pay that cost.

        Otherwise they will lose. Which is never pretty.

        Look at any successful activist group in the developed world, you are looking at successful counter-punch players.

    • Rosie 7.3

      Ad. What a disappointing comment.

      You are speaking down to the author because they are among a “handful of volunteers” who should expect to be treated as they do.
      How are they going to get “as big as Greenpeace or Forest and Bird” when they are blocked at every turn? Why can’t a small group aim to make a big difference?

      I don’t think you have been following the progress of Farmwatch over the last couple of years, which has been easy as JDarroch has been an author here before, so to use arrogant language like “you have a crack with a little snippet of video” is very patronising, without you knowing the amount of work they put into farmed animal welfare.

      How do you think we get things done without activists, when our industries and government have no conscience?

      I think you should with hold your judgement – abuse in the dairy industry was always going to be the next can of worms to be opened, after battery hen and pig farming. Look what activists, the exact same ones, have achieved there. If you’re buying free range eggs, chicken and pig, it is because of them.

      • Rosie 7.3.1

        Edit thing won’t load. Further to say hopefully this isn’t the end of exposure of cruel farming practices in the dairy industry, hopefully it’s just the beginning. Those apologists at MPI and those abusers on farms better sit up and listen.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.3.2

        +1

    • jdarroch 7.4

      Ad you have a very different idea about how society should run if you are ok with death threats and spurious attacks from government ministers.

      I’ve never said that I’m surprised by this. In my time in the animal rights movement I’ve had to deal police informants, informants from private security companies, tracking devices on our vehicles, being surveiled by counter-terrorism officers etc. But the fact that these kinds of things goes on does not make them acceptable nor mean we should not speak about them. We all know crime happens, people drive drunk etc but we still speak out because we believe these things are wrong.

      As for having to have a budget in the millions to speak out – that’s a very depressing and dangerous situation to be in as a society. I believe that there is a vital role for small organisations and individuals in pushing for social change – both on the left and right.

      • mickysavage 7.4.1

        Ad is a jaundiced campaign veteran like me. Reread his comment. It was not a criticism of JD’s passion, it was pointing out the reality that the farming industry is seriously over resourced and does not brook dissent.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 7.4.1.1

          That’s how I read it too.

        • Rosie 7.4.1.2

          mickey, with respect, if Ad is jaundiced, that’s his issue. There’s no need to be nasty and behave like he’s knows it all and knows best, even if he does. His tone towards the author was disrespectful, arrogant and quite unnecessary. JD and crew are doing fine work that is also risky and difficult. So much for solidarity.

      • David 7.4.2

        What John says is correct for any doubters out there. And know that they will go after the man, not just the men (or women): even unrelated group organisation will be disrupted and sabotaged if it has the effect of discouraging activism or destroying the target’s life.

        John, you must be very lucky to have a strong support network around you. Not everyone does.

    • greywarshark 7.5

      Ad
      I can’t believe you are taking this condemnatory tone with JDarroch. You are a s.d when you come over RW And that happens quite often.

      Darroch has the right to complain about his treatment, whether it is to be expected from our amoral dairy business and their fellow travellers in politics, or not. The group are speaking truth and doing good.

      But the extent to which the sector has a two pronged response, one full of hot air PR, and one of underhand vicious threats and invective and attempts to dismantle the charitable status of the group. I remember that Muldoon actually deregistered charity CORSO when it stopped looking at need overseas and drew attention to similar conditions in New Zealand.

      They have reported abuse of farm animals, and now they are reporting abuse of themselves as citizens. Seems the right thing to do while we are still left free to do so.

    • Tracey 7.6

      It looks like they are using the resources they have (in this case TS) to counter attack the counter attack.

    • David 7.7

      AD: so it is OK for industries like the dairy industry and the fishing industry to intimidate any and all opposition to their practices like Cartels, with the support of the Police and other agencies, including the Prime Minister’s office? Can you really justify that as a bit of rough and tumble?

      Why not point to the drug industry and whoever its present Mr Asia is, and say: “serves them right if Al Capone gives them the bash – they are dealing with Al Capone after all!”

      Online, physical, and state harassment is standard when it comes to these industries. Many stories will never come out because of their power and their influence but they have done things to people you would not believe.

  8. Paul 8

    Another shameful episode as New Zealand degenerates from a once proud and independent country to a US client state.
    Clean and green.
    100 % Pure.
    2 Fossil awards.
    What a tragic joke those slogans have become!

  9. roy cartland 9

    Why don’t “the farmers” just all join SAFE? That would show ’em they’re serious.

  10. Rosie 10

    Firstly Mr Darroch, immense gratitude to yourself and other Farmwatch and SAFE volunteers for working so hard to try and improve the lives of farmed animals and for exposing the behaviour of farm workers for what it is – out right abuse and cruelty. Again.

    It was abundantly clear that the media were indeed “shooting the messenger” in the case of the exposure of the video and the publication of the newsprint and online ad in the Guardian. In fact some of us spoke about that last week on TS. There was little to no investigation of the notion of abuse on our dairy farms………..as if MPI and the industry were the puppeteers of the news reports………….

    It is even worse though, to hear about the vicious way in which dairy farmers have attacked SAFE and Farmwatch via their anti SAFE fb page, (which was just horrible to read btw) their vile petition and their all round ignorance fuelled hate speech and threats of violence. It’s a tragedy that their misplaced rage has put activists safety and well being at risk. All of this being endorsed in a sick kind of a way by MPI for their lack of action and once again that word, “misplaced” blame, on you instead of the perpetrators.

    If you have gone to the Police in regard to the threats of violence then I do hope they are taking it seriously. With nut jobs like these farmers around, I’m worried for the safety of activists such as yourselves.

    Take care and Kia Kaha.

    • + 1

      I also thank you and the teams for the mahi you are doing. The abuse of the animals is rife – everyone knows it, very few have the courage to say it and act against it.

    • jdarroch 10.2

      Thanks we appreciate the support! I havn’t gone to the police as the threats against me have been unspecific and to me look like idle chatter. Others however have had much more serious threats and the police have been taking these seriously (to their credit).

      It’s worth mentioning that we saw a lot more than we were able to film and that the media has not used all the footage we have given them. It’s because of how widespread the abuse was that we took the approach we did. I was personally stunned at what I saw – I was expecting to try and show consumers the short lives of bobby calves – I was not expecting cruelty every time we placed a hidden camera.

      This work has become more dangerous in light of this expose and we are going to have to assess what we are able to do. We knew that this would likely be the only time we could drive around in relative anonymity which is why we tried to be as thorough as we could be.

      • Grant 10.2.1

        Likewise much respect and many thanks. I’d be too chicken to do what you guys do.

      • Rosie 10.2.2

        JD, glad to hear that the Police are taking the serious threats, seriously.

        I’m really sorry you have to witness the abuses that you do – I can only imagine that can create a form of trauma, that’s why your work is so appreciated, the level of personal risk, physically and psychologically isn’t insignificant.

        Stay safe and be well 🙂

    • Don't worry. Be happy 10.3

      Well said Rosie. The activists are brave, resourceful and humane. We should all take a leaf out of their book.

  11. James 11

    The author forgets to mention or link to the part where farmers (on the facebook page) are being told to go kill themselves by the “safe supporters”.

    Its not all one way bad traffic.

    • jdarroch 11.1

      Hey James fair point, we knew that a lot of people were going to be outraged by what we found and prior to the release of the footage we posted on a range of activist and vegan facebook pages telling people that we did not want to see any aggressive language towards farmers, consumers or their supporters. As a group we have been actively trying to keep the debate civil and I am entirely against any SAFE supporters telling farmers to kill themselves – I personally havn’t seen any of these but I am sure they exist.

      One of the key differences is that any such attacks are not organised or supported in any way by the wider community. The post comparing me, Hans and Lynley to Isis for example is on the page which the minister spoke positively about and which has many thousands of members. I can guarantee that there is nothing like this on any of the vegan facebook pages on – and if there were I would do my best to end it.

      The other point which I believe is important is that I support the right of groups such as Federated Farmers as well as individual farmers to present their point of view and don’t wish to prevent this. This compares to our opponents who very clearly want to shut groups like SAFE down.

      The last point I would make is the asymmetry of the situation, we don’t have the Minister engaging in spurious attempts to discredit farmers nor do we have the numbers or power farmers do.

      • Bruce 11.1.1

        Given what I understand you and your family have put up with over the years I am humbled by your attitude. You have the patience of a Buddhist monk.

    • Gangnam Style 11.2

      you got any links?

  12. esoteric pineapples 12

    Jihadi John Key inciting terrorist violence

  13. Kelly 13

    I don’t know about the other Facebook pages as I haven’t seen them, but the “People Against SAFE” page was established because people were frustrated that SAFE and Farmwatch blocked them on Facebook for arguing the other side of the story. The petition to get rid of SAFE’s charity status started up long before this current dairy debacle – and it is because SAFE is a political organisation, just like Greenpeace, and appears to not fit the criteria needed to be a charity. However, that will be for the investigator to decide. If SAFE does in fact fit the criteria to be a charity, no amount of signatures on a petition is going to change their charitable status, so I’m really not sure why the writer of this article is upset about the petition at all. Where SAFE chooses to spend their donated money is relevant – donors donate to charities because they believe their money is going to help a cause they are passionate about, but they haven’t actually looked into where the money is going. I stopped donating to World Vision when I realised the tiny percentage of the money donated was going to help hungry children.

    Like many, I was appalled by the footage of the pig farms, and was horrified to discover there had been no prosecutions over this. Outraged, I emailed MPI to find out why and they sent me an email back explaining that the footage provided by Farmwatch could not be used in court as it had been obtained illegally, and their own investigation found no abuse. I guess sadistic brutes can also be nice to animals when there is someone watching.

    I live in a farming community and the vast majority of the farmers I have spoken to were horrified by the abuse shown and commended SAFE and Farmwatch on their dedication in gathering that footage. What angered them, however, was when SAFE took that footage internationally via a $10,000 (UK money, so about $22,000 NZD) ad in a British newspaper, in an attempt to destroy the NZ dairy industry. The ad implied that the NZ dairy industry is the only one in the world to have cruelty within it, and the only country to take the cows from their mothers when this is not true at all – every dairy industry in the world is the same.

    Many vegan animal activists are calling farmers heartless rapists and murderers so the abuse is not at all one-sided.

    • jdarroch 13.1

      Hey I appreciate the position on SAFE – Greenpeace recently went to the supreme court around charitable status and had a favourable decision so I think SAFE will be safe.

      Regarding the illegally obtained footage, my understanding (after talking to several lawyers and sitting through a lot of the pre-trial hearings for the October 15 terror raids) is that it is up to the discretion of the judge as to whether or not illegally obtained footage is admissible. Given that the abuse we captured could not be captured with hidden cameras and we would not know the abuse were occurring otherwise I believe there is a strong argument for taking it before a judge. Indeed I believe this is what MPI are currently considering.

      However most of what we exposed could not be prosecuted simply because it is accepted by MPI as legal. In the media last year I tried to stress that what we showed at factory farms was by and large legalised cruelty. I did point out to MPI that the codes of welfare which allow much of this legalised cruelty do not preclude a prosecution and that the animal welfare act supersedes them but they did not express any interest in testing this either.

      The point which I am trying to make in a roundabout manner is that the Minister is full of shit when he says that MPI will take immediate action – for the reasons I’ve just listed MPI are highly unlikely to take action – and their track record shows this.

      I appreciate the international ad was controversial and that many people think there are better things the money could have been spent on. I’ve been exposing factory farms since I was a teenager and nothing substantial has changed – we’ve tried every tactic in the book to try and create change for animals with very limited success. I believe SAFE were hoping that the international ad would force the government to take action – and I believe it has been successful in doing so. Given the number of animals involved I believe that spending money on tactics such as this is entirely justified.

      As for abuse from vegan animal activists – I oppose this strongly and have once again posted on activist pages asking other activists to keep an eye out for this and to try and shut it down where they see it.

      • Craig H 13.1.1

        I assume “Given that the abuse we captured could not be captured with hidden cameras” was meant to say without hidden cameras!

        Is there any consideration being given to bringing private prosecutions if MPI refuse to act?

        • jdarroch 13.1.1.1

          Yup meant without hidden cameras 🙂

          We’ve discussed the idea of a private prosecution in the past and it’s something I’ve been keen on. However we are incredibly stretched so couldn’t contribute much.

          If any lawyers out there are interested feel free to drop Farmwatch a line.

        • Sacha 13.1.1.2

          I’d love to see someone prosecute MPI for not doing their job.

          Biggest structural problem has been this government merging regulatory and industry support agencies, which are then instructed to favour the interests of business over the public. It’s like MBIE and workplace safety regulation.

  14. weston 14

    Theres a little book out there called All heaven in a rage , for anyone interested in the history of animal wellfare or animal cruelty whichever way you like to look at it . quite facinating exposeys of vivisectionists sawing off the hooves of trussed horses etc and a neat tale of a lion tamer whos tool of choice was a hammer which terrified the lions . The queen after what must have been a masterfull performance presented him with a golden hammer ! . I suppose we,ve come a long way since then but obviously not that far and behind the facade of pleasant present day life its total shit for a lot of animals still .The sad truth is most of us dont care or more to the point CANT care because we,re removed and remote from their suffering which is why activist groups like farmsafe and safe are so necessary . Hats off to them and shame on mpi and the minister.

  15. gsays 15

    i want to echo the affirmations of rosie, marty and others.
    well done jdarroch and your colleagues.

    for years i have bemoaned the sight of shelterless paddocks both in summer and winter.
    a waikato mate shared the image of cows with their heads in the shadow of strainers, just for some relief from the sun.

    this is able to be seen in any rural area in aotearoa.

    where is the spca (society for proliferation of cats atrocities) on this?

    gotta say i was surprised by ads response.
    its by radical/extreme ends society gets moderate gains.

  16. linda 16

    there is good cause to boycott new Zealand dairy products from an animal cruelty view point and an environmental record NZ farmers are parasites national are PAC of nazi spoiled brats that need there own way

    [lprent: Please avoid Godwin’s law. I tend to start changing to the mode of BOFH whenever I see it. ]

    • Stacy 16.1

      Wow, that wasn’t a well thought out comment at all.
      Each to their own. Abuse is not right in any case, anywhere but I like to know my carrots came from the local farmers market, harvested hours ago. So much hate cannot be good for the mental health of those who work away producing some fine and well respected goods in this country. I’d always of course eat from my own garden when possible. I know what it takes to grow, to produce from the land, not always an easy task.

      Thank you to those who do it with passion, with care and respect.

  17. Shixiong Luo 17

    The SAFE is against the whole industry. So why can’t farmers response to them? I don’t really get the logic. Besides, the farmers just state the truth. Some people don’t believe it, please go find a farm have a look instead of sitting with an opinion. 🙂

    • Leftie 17.1

      Seriously, did you bother to actually read the article and the comments ? And what makes you think that farmers “just state the truth”?

  18. William Llewellyn 18

    I think you are all forgetting about the animals.
    How can I help stop cruelty to animals.
    I don’t see it normally, except for no shelter for the cows I see every day as I drive to work, no shelter on the sunny days when I cannot work outside because of the heat, no shelter through winter when I wake up at the crack of dawn to give my chooks water that has not frozen overnight.
    Who gives two hoots for those cows and cattle, out there on a paddock naked except for some blades of grass ?
    I do, again, how can I help.
    You have my email, cheers, William Llewellyn.

    • Ad 18.1

      If an alien came down and observed New Zealand’s sentient forms, they would see one species forming mechanized agribusiness into death camps for another species, whose slaughtering and rendering plants waft their stench for many kilometers.

      If you have money, find the most effective activist movement against such damage and throw dump trucks of it at them – they clearly need it.

      If you have legal training, you could help SAFE re-draft their Constitution to ensure that they are primarily – primarily – an organization that is not devoted to political activism. DIA will be coming for them.

      If all you have is time, find your nearest farm-focused SPCA and simply help animals. You will liberate your soul.

      If you have some media expertise, sit SAFE down and figure out what the next hit is. Clearly they don’t get politics.

      These people – and these animals – clearly need all the help they can get.

  19. Brett 19

    If you had just targeted the farms in question, We would have supported you. If you had not gone straight to international media, we would have supported you.

    What we are sick of is SAFE blaming / harming the entire farming industry for a “Shock” effect.

    How would SAFE feel if we internationally reported that SAFE abuses animals its trying to save all because 1 bad fruit caused the issues.

    I support most animal welfare campaigns. However SAFE is not about animal welfare. they are about defaming industries in order to make their own name bigger.

    • Paul 19.1

      I am sure those farms ( and our heroic government) would have listened without publicity that would actually pressurise a change of policy.

    • lprent 19.2

      They have been highlighting animal abuse for a long time and passing the information to the useless pricks who are meant to and paid to protect animals, but who seem to not do anything when shown graphic images, documented violations, and pointed to the Acts that they are responsible for enforcing. They seem to regard their wages as a reason to avoid doing anything about the abusers of animals.

      Perhaps you should get off your lazy arse and try having a go at them to do their fucking job. But I guess that it is easier for you to be a complete dickhead – you are talented at that.

    • Reality 19.3

      The defaming is done by the industry itself for not monitoring and reporting cruelty and abuse. The people who do this and those who do nothing about it must be such cold, callous, heartless types.

    • Tracey 19.4

      How many farmers have you ever dobbed in? Did you call on Fed Farmers (following your viewing of the footage) to track down the culprits and work with the police to lay charges? Did you demand better regulation? Did you demand that Fed Farmers set up n investigation unit, and that farmers be levied to fund it?

      I don’t believe that good farmers nearby didn’t know of the abuses going on by their neighbours, afterall, those who have posted here seem to know alot of what is being done and thought by their rural community and farmer colleagues.

      Have you considered that how “farmers” as an industry have or have not responded to SAFE accusations, past and present, has an impact on them taking out a full page Ad. That Ad smells of frustratiin to me.

  20. Grant 20

    SAFE are a bunch of naive extremists who don’t think, are politically motivated, and have no real idea of the world.
    Everyone has condemned what was seen recently.
    But such an organisation is an embarrassment full of hypocritical people, who no doubt vote the Greens!
    Green on the outside, red on the inside!

    • mickysavage 20.1

      Another new commenter attacking SAFE and not addressing the post.

      • lprent 20.1.1

        Yeah. A bit short on intelligence in that one. But after all he is demonstrating that stupidity of people who fail to understand the post’s title.

        It’d be nice if these ignorant fuckwits could exert some of this energy in getting the damn MAF inspectors to do their damn job and enforcing the Acts that they are responsible for enforcing. But these appear to be lazy stupid people…

      • Grant 20.1.2

        If this character is allowed to comment again I’d appreciate it if they are asked to choose a different handle. Cheers

  21. jeans 21

    wow you activists are a real peace of meat, so many lies! and they help no one! iv never seen calves lelf on the road to “die” or even on a road like that! i was disgusted to see those people on what they did BUT i did not like the fact that SAFE is saying that all farmers are doing this and that we dont care and we all smash and beat our animals all the time! WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP! SHAME ON YOU SAFE pointing the finger at all of us when its the very few Muppet that do it! you should of reported this straight away! but no you left it for two years! just like watching a illegal dog fight that is! and how do they call themselves a not for profit charity when they are using the donations for paying wagers and protesting and only 1% went to actual animals!! sorry but all what they are doing twisting stories to brainwash ignorant people to go vegan they are not help anyone or anything, since when was charities suppose to be big extremists prolical attack to others? and for people that saying dont “shoot the messenger” well does that mean that all pet owners are pet abusers and are all parents child molesters? NO so yes ill shoot the messenger because that messenger smells like a dead fish!

    • Don't worry. Be happy 21.1

      Such a lot of shouty farmer types all of a sudden….farmers are so kind to their animals. Bullshit. Animals are castrated without anaesthetic. Their tails are amputated. Dogs are set on them. Sheep and cows are left with no shelter from the blazing sun or the biting wind. I rang Federated Farmers one night after watching cows hock deep in mud, enduring a southerly blizzard that was bringing snow to sea levels. A storm I may add that had been predicted for days. I was getting nowhere until I mentioned that I had been taking a visitor to the internatiomal airport and that we both had cameras. The cows were moved that night. A MAF vet contacted me some days later to assure me that the farmer was “a good farmer” . We all need to step up….farmers need to know that we are watching and we all have phones with cameras.

      • Whispering Kate 21.1.1

        I agree about the lack of shelter, the Hauraki Plains on the way to Coromandel as far back as the 1970’s were bare of shelter and we saw cows in paddocks out in the blazing sun – SPCA have never dealt with this situation and why isn’t there training at places like the once upon a time Flock House which was the training house for farm cadets. It should be part of their training and legislated as well, for a few trees to be planted in each paddock for shelter from either the sun or freezing wind and rain for both sheep and cows.

        I also heard that they deliberately shear the ewes when it is really cold so that they won’t ignore their lambs and stay close to them for warmth – it’s done year after year and that’s why people think “why are the sheep being fleeced just when they need their coat for warmth”. We have some pretty terrible farm practices and the SPCA and rural Vets should be on to this abuse.

        What with our useless tackling of methane from the animals wrecking the environment and blatant cruelty to animals in our farming communities NZ is pretty much derelict in its responsibilities all over the spectrum.

      • Rosie 21.1.2

        Yes, that was very shouty and irrational of jeans. Might have been on a few vino’s last night.

        Good on you for acting on the wilful neglect of the cows you witnessed.

        You mention one common abuse, which is the amputation of tails. There is also the act of “tail twisting”, in those poor darling who have their tails. This is a method a worker uses to coerce a cow into the milking shed if she is reluctant to go in. It creates a huge amount of pain for her and it can result in tail breakage if the worker is particularly vicious.

        There was a case that actually made it to the courts two years ago where there was a large number of cows left with broken tails and didn’t receive any veterinary treatment.

        I recall MPI Minister Nathan Guy being asked about this practice and he shrugged it off, said it was common practice and they wouldn’t be doing anything about it.

        How can we expect our Ministry to protect the welfare of farmed animals when they refuse to condemn harm and cruelty?

    • lprent 21.2

      I suggest you read the post. When SAFE or any other animal rights group fronts up with small bits of evidence to the authorities, they are ignored. The only time the slack bastards do anything is when there is a substantive amount of evidence, enough to show that practices are widespread enough to convince journalists that the problem needs airing.

      Basically you should be saving your anger for the lazy fuckwit apologists like Nathan Guy who seem to spend their political career taking orders from the kinds of sick arseholes who hurt animals without reason.

      Go and expend your anger on those who are meant to be enforcing the laws of this country so that SAFE can expend their time on other practices that need bringing up to the standard required by law.

      You really are an unthinking idiot.

    • joe90 21.3

      The drinking week starts on Thursday.
      //

    • Draco T Bastard 21.4

      And another apologist for the inhumane bastards pops in.

  22. millsy 22

    The desire to make money and profit almost inevitably leads to brutality.

  23. Gael 23

    Thanks for being here The Standard so that people like jdarroch can be given clear unedited voice. Commentators here for the most part are obv high functioning and very well informed. A refreshing read with robust debates and honesty compared to msm tv which i have given up on.

    Our protest is small but simple at our place… we stopped buying fonterra products.

    Not just because of bobby treatment sad wee things waiting by the side if the road year after year….this latest just the last straw on top of. live cow exports, lack of shelter, antibiotics, growth hormones, feeding them imported palm oil kernels, and latest i heard was some horrid research saying could reduce flatulence by feeding them fish waste.. or just let them graze for only four hours a day then house them to catch effluent..ie cow factories.

    With apologies to ‘good farmers’… sorry but it isn’t good enough any more for me.

    Thanks tho because I’d always bought the bog standard 2ltre… but now I drink boutique organic (in much smaller quantities!) and gee it tastes nice…. just like it used to many years ago. I didnt realise how icky tasting ‘normal’ milk had become… poor b cows.

    • Ad 23.1

      Yup we did the same. No more Fonterra products.
      Got my sister and aunties to do the same.

      At the Climate Change march in Auckland, Jeanette Fitzsimmons said to the whole march that Fonterra used coal-burning plants. That sealed it for me.

    • gsays 23.2

      yes ditto here to raw organic milk.
      pick up from the milking shed on the way home.
      no marketing(apart from sign on fridge), no distribution, no middle man (duopoly) and a chance to see the cows at milking time.
      have shown many of our urban mates and their children this gentle herd.
      btw plenty of trees around the paddocks too.

      • Kelly 23.2.1

        That’s great you have found a place to buy raw, organic milk, that is the way milk should taste! And it’s much better for you than the pasterurised, homogenised rubbish available in the shops. In my opinion, all dairy farmers should be allowed to sell raw milk at the farm gate.
        However, don’t think for a second that farming practices on that farm are substantially different from practices on a standard dairy farm – the cows still need to have calves every year, which then most likely need to be removed, for that milk to be produced.
        Most cows in a dairy herd are pretty gentle.

        • Rosie 23.2.1.1

          My thoughts too Kelly. I try to avoid purchasing Fonterra products where possible. For milk, I get Lewis Road Creamery organic. (don’t have access to raw milk, only supermarket milk) But there is no way of knowing how the treatment of those cows would differ from any other farm whether it be fonterra or what ever.

          I have used milk alternatives as a way of avoiding the dairy cruelty issue. It’s fine on muesli but no good in coffee or tea.

        • gsays 23.2.1.2

          hi kelly,
          one of my favourite combos is a crunchy apple and a glass of cold milk.

          as for the reminder about calving to keep the milk running, thanks.
          i am weaning(scuse the pun) myself off animal flesh. any that is consumed at home, i know where it has come from.
          baby steps.
          i think the kicking of a dairy product habit is a wee further in to the future.

          maybe having our own house cow…

    • Sam 23.3

      What is the proof that happened on a Fonterra farm?

  24. Don't worry. Be happy 24

    It is a few years ago that I complained to Federated Farmers about dreadful conditions a herd was experiencing duringa severe winter storm. I got there through an 0800 number run by MAF. As I remember I was told at the time that MAF had the grand total of two vets available to follow up complaints….for the entire South Island.

    • Tracey 24.1

      THIS ^^^^^

      Where is the voluntaring of a levy to fund more vets and more investigators? You know, given how appalled the good farmers are with the abuse and torture?

  25. Tracey 25

    If those farmers who posted here would take the level of outrage they felt at SAFE’s one page ad, and turn it on their fellow farmers and demand their representatives do everything possible to ensure these practices never happen again, I would symptahise with their position. I just really doubt they will do that though… cos

    “The abuse was bad, and I wanted to do something but then the Ad was placed and I had to get riled up about that which left no time or space to do the other thing I wa sthinking of doing!”

    🙄

  26. savenz 26

    +100 Safe!

    Far from being economic terrorists it makes NZ farming better that mistreatment or outdated practises are discovered and reformed.

    Again Fonterra should be taking the lead themselves and reforming cruel practises and have their own team of regulators. Shooting the messenger is NOT ON.

    Nor is threatening whistleblowers like Safe with reregistration of their charity – like Greenpeace, that will not work!!!

    Making the actions criminal of those that speak out – isn’t that called dictatorship?

    John Key is laughed out of Paris on his doublespeak on climate change, and now can’t be bothered doing anything (apart from denial) on animal cruelty practises.

    Disgusting that there were no prosecutions for beating the pig to death or other cruel practises!!!

    Plenty of time for police to harass Nicky Hager. Loads of money to give for mass surveillance, but unfortunately animal cruelty are not a priority for our government.

    Lets face it, they are still building the Saudi Sheep bribe even though live sheep exports are supposed to be against the law! Even the Saudi’s don’t trust our government!

    The current Nat government – they are PRO ANIMAL CRUELTY and will do anything to try to save a $1 in the short term even if it destroys our farming reputation in the long term.

    As well as the Natz being taken to court over their criminal climate change policy someone should take them to court for economic terrorism of our international reputation as under their stewardship, animal cruelty have got worse and they are promoting it, especially with the dead sheep exported!

  27. RowT 27

    Hello all. First of all as a left leaning dairy farmer I would like to express my support for your right to freedom of speech in a democracy. Secondly you have accurately pointed out some extremely disappointing and disturbing players in the industry. Here is where we part ways. The industry is not a giant conspiracy against anyone. Fonterra is a Democratic cooperative with over 10000 owners, the wheels sometimes turn slowly in an organisation like that. The vitriolic reactions some activists have received are sad, but they are not part of an industry wide campaign. Farmers feel betrayed, threatened and blackmailed. The big stick came out from Safe within days of the show airing and the poster was an emotive piece of pictorial propaganda. The fact that some of your footage was inaccurate did not help. Bobby calves are not supposed to be picked up from the roadside. Their pens have to be of a certain standard. They have to be tagged. What you showed was not common practice. Most farmers are not right wing corporate mega farmers. The comparison to ISIS is over the top, but SAFE are perceived as on a par with PETA and as extremists. PETA have a track record of ridiculously inaccurate claims about some farm practices which undermines any fair claims they may have. If you are going to engage in an emotive way people will react emotionaly which unfortunately not always rational. I know the progress in other industries has been slow but it has happened. A while ago I read an article on line extensively quoting Hank about the widespread use of inductions. He was either lying, exaggerating or misquoted. Whatever the case farmers were portrayed inaccurately and unfairly. This practice too has gone by the wayside. Progress is being made. Lastly, a word on democracy. I didn’t think tiny polutical minorities were supposed to dictate to larger groups about how, where and why anything should be.

    • Rosie 27.1

      Thanks Rowt.

      A few things:

      ” I didn’t think tiny polutical minorities were supposed to dictate to larger groups about how, where and why anything should be.”

      SAFE and Farmwatch aren’t dictating to anyone. Consumers of dairy products are absolutely capable of making their own informed decisions about the products they purchase and have a right to question the safety and ethics of that product.

      Second. To many customers, this, sadly isn’t news. As has been pointed out so much, but some farmers are struggling to comprehend, is that activists have been witnessing bad behaviour for many years. Is it any wonder, when MPI won’t act on complaints that they have to go next level with it?
      Also, as you would have read, it’s not just activists having to make complaints, commenters on this site have had to do that. That tells me nothing is being done, when activists and ordinary citizens do the right thing and take it to MPI and the abuse still continues.

      Third. Why should farmers “feel betrayed, threatened and blackmailed”. They feel betrayed because their abuses have been exposed? How backwards is that? In what way have they been blackmailed?

      Finally, I have to ask. Farmers often work in isolating conditions, long hours and what may appear to be unrewarding work. The abuse of animals could have many different origins: Ignorance, desensitisation, frustration and exhaustion. None of it acceptable or tolerable. Are farmers getting enough support and information about coping with stress, and would this help reduce animal abuse if they were?

      • RowT 27.1.1

        Hi Rosie. You see, good things come to those who wait. Haha. I have a few minutes so I will have a go at answering the blackmailed/betrayed aspect of your post this time round.

        Blackmailed was probably inaccurate as SAFE never made an ultimatum. They were like a kidnapper who instead of saying ‘do such and such by x time or we will chop off a hand and send it in the mail’ just moved straight to the hand chopping off stage.

        Betrayed? What has happened in other food industries where SAFE have felt ignored is not dairy farmers doing. To the best of my knowledge we were not engaged in any meaningful dialogue about these welfare issues. Our industry HSS made progress over time on animal welfare issues. For example the banning if tail docking and inductions. Even before the bans many farmers were not practicing them. Dehorning has improved, all my farming friends use local but I’m sure some farmers don’t. In my view that needs sorting.

        Betrayal also because the majority of the footage was truckies and one abatoir and dairy farmers were
        Vilified for it. The farmers filmed leaving their stock in inappropriate holding facilities are already breaking the rules. MPI should sort that. Don’t blame all drivers for the drink drivers!

        Gotta go do some work…and see my kids. Merry xmas

        • Rosie 27.1.1.1

          Ok thanks RowT, and thanks for taking the time. I didn’t realising you were trying to work and comment at the same time. I know how long your hours are, I have cousin who is a dairy farmer on the Hauraki Plains.

          I did note your comments and replies to others re the dehorning – I don’t know what inductions are however……….
          As mentioned somewhere else on this thread I’m also worried about the practice of tail twisting to coerce the cows into the sheds and Nathan Guys response to it, which was “meh, no problem”.

          I do think it is worthwhile if consumers and farmers could have a space where we could speak directly. I’m not sure if The Standard would like to host a dedicated space to that. It needs to be kept separate from JD’s post I think.

          You and your family have a happy and safe Christmas too.

    • Sam 27.2

      Excellent comment RowT. But given the language used by iprent in some of their comments here I would suggest that rational discussion is never likely to happen with Farmwatch nor SAFE.

      [lprent: FFS: you really are a stupid fool. I have nothing to do with either Farmwatch or SAFE. I really just don’t like disingenuous hypocrites like you trying to derail debate with stupid tactics. The point of the post is about people attacking the messanger of bad tidings rather than doing the hard work of dealing with the cause of bad tidings. Something that you appear to be doing. Are you scared of looking at the issues?

      But hey, if you don’t like robust debate because of peoples language then I suspect that you aren’t capable of being able of arguing because you want to set the grounds of debate (which you don’t do here – read the policy) or because you are intellectually incapable of looking beyond the superficial. ]

    • jdarroch 27.3

      Hey RowT there are a range of substantive points I raised which I think are relevant even if all your points are true – for example ongoing inaction by MPI.

      However I have a different perspective on how widespread this is. What we observed were many crates at the side of the road in core dairy country in the Waikato. Where they were not on the side of the road there were often crates down the driveway which were identical to the type of ones which were on the side of the road and we saw the calves being left in these all day long too. I understand some farms have ramps from the barn into the bobby trucks but I spent a lot of time observing bobby trucks driving onto farms and loading and did not once see this. I was typically using binoculars and it was too far to film which is why I don’t have documentary evidence.

      I am literally stunned by all the farmers saying they never saw this, as a horticulturalist I pay attention to any fruit trees I see when I drive past – I pay a lot of attention if I see a roadside stall selling horticultural products. If I pay this much attention to horticultural products how then can dairy farmers claim not to have seen this? Don’t they pay attention to what’s happening on the roads they live on? Why didn’t the neighbors ever see what we saw? Our cameras were being set off constantly by passing vehicles. We do not wish to target individual farmers so we havn’t released addresses but I wish I could in order to highlight the points I am making.

      The footage we obtained shows over 20 different workers from at least 6 trucking companies either throwing bobby calves or directly present when this is occurring. They are doing this in the open making no attempt to hide it. Many of these crates are within line of sight of the farm house or milking shed. Not one time did I observe bobby calves being transferred in a gentle or humane manner. I am not making any attempt to exaggerate or mislead – I was shocked and genuinely surprised by what we found.

      I do not believe that inductions are widespread since the voluntary ban was introduced and believe Hans thinks the same – if you can track down where he said that I would be interested and will have a chat with him about what he meant.

      Yes we use emotive tactics – so do dairy companies in their ads. I’m a vegan and I find what happens to animals unconscionable – and through this work I aim to show others why I think this. I’ve never made any attempt to hide this.

      • Sam 27.3.1

        JD I would have more respect for your work if you had also targeted your campaign at trucking companies and also the pet food industry and not just dairy. The petfood industry is not regulated like the export market is and as such, from your footage suggests that there needs to be a significant change in that. Don’t blame dairy farmers for what happens at slaughterhouses. There are many govt agencies that are responsible for that and farmers expect that they do their jobs. If they don’t then the pet food industry and agencies need to be called to account. To say in international media that farmers were the people at the slaughterhouse treating the calves like that, lost your credibility.

        Thank you for your honesty in the last paragraph. It kinda explains why you tar all farmers as bad – regardless of what the reality is.

      • RowT 27.3.2

        Hey JD. Hope your week has been a good one. Took me a while to get onto it but here is the article I mentioned.

        http://munchies.vice.com/articles/has-new-zealands-milk-gone-bad

        This article is nearly 22 months old.

        After reading this, especially the bit ‘most calves are born too early…’ Hans started losing any credibility in my eyes.

        I have also never heard of calves being unfed in bobby pens for 36 hours.

        Calves at four days old are not weak on the legs (unless they are sick), they are up and drinking within an hour after birth usually. 24 hr old calves can be very difficult to catch in fact!

        It is not uncommon for cows to reject, kick, trample or ignore their offspring.

        So all in all i guess some of us farmers feel that SAFE have a disneyland view of the animal world.

        I agree we should stamp out abuse. But lets be honest about animals, their behaviour and what is common practice on farms. What you dont take into account is that an animal is a farmers asset so why would they purposely harm something of value to them?

        Have enjoyed, been frustrated, and at times drained by the interactions on this thread. Have a merry xmas. Heres hoping the middle ground can be negotiated in the near future.

        Cheers – RowT

        PS some feedback about site design. Very difficult to follow questions and comments. Some people get frustrated if you dont respond to them but if you are not constsntly on line then you dont know you jave been replied to. Maybe responses could be sent to emails, or that option given.

  28. johnm 28

    This Bobby Calf torture and slaughter makes me ashamed to be a member of the killer ape species! No wonder the poor planet is f@cked to mass extinction level, we’re a plague of voracious eaters like locusts but unlike locusts we’re carnivores.

    This animal vile cruelty is everywhere in the World.

    Do these sweet calves not feel? do they not agonise for their lost mothers? do they not feel grief and anguish? do they not want to live and just eat grass?

    There’s a direct link between this behaviour and wars. The Jews were treated like docile cattle by the Nazis and gassed in their millions. We are not a gentle peace loving species and climate change will terminate us.

  29. Susie 29

    Y’know, the very fact that farmers are so up in arms, shows that they feel super guilty about what they have been doing for years – it was the same 50 years ago when I was a child and nothing has changed except perhaps it’s a metal crate for bobby calves now and they were wooden when I was young. And their poor mothers, they usually grieve a lot.

    As for Nathan Guy and our PM. They need to start to think laterally about our economy and get on with the real job at hand: alternative farming that causes neither the intentional killing nor suffering of animals.

    • lprent 29.1

      …the very fact that farmers are so up in arms, shows that they feel super guilty…

      I wouldn’t say that. There are always a few loudmouths in any community (I’m probably one of them here). But often the quieter and usually more responsible people will look at what they postulate and decide to do something quite different.

      Loudmouths are often usual for crystallizing opinion for change. It isn’t often that it is in the direction that the loudmouths wish…

      In this case I suspect that we are likely to see changes in the way that bobby calves are handled over the next few years, in just the same slow way that the last decade has seen in the rural handling of rivers, runoff, chickens, fertilizer and pigs.

      • Susie 29.1.1

        Do you mean that you think the farmers don’t feel guilty? Well, I would have to say that I’ve talked to enough of them to think that many do. It might be deep down but scratch the surface and that’s what you often find. They might keep doing it, yes, and they have to explain it away to themselves with thoughts like: “Well, what else can I do?” or “I don’t like it but that’s life” etc etc. That’s why I am trying to get the government to think laterally about agriculture that does not involve intentional killing or suffering. Will I get anywhere? OK, I am well aware that it will probably not happen in my lifetime but I am positive that a groundswell of public opinion will bring it to pass in the end. Whether or not that is in time to save the planet is debatable, though.

  30. Benji S 30

    This article is ridiculous and hypocritical.

    Firstly – Oh no, people are trying to “Shoot the messenger”? If you secretly tape animal abuse but then launch an indiscriminate smear campaign against the entire dairy industry, then you better believe you are open for some serious criticism, particularly on social networks. How could you possibly expect anything else?

    Secondly – “Since Farmwatch and SAFE released footage of cruelty within the NZ dairy industry we have been subjected to a sustained and deliberate attack, with attempts to discredit and undermine our work.” …. “a range of pro-farming Facebook pages instantly appeared [after the screening], many of them openly targeting SAFE. As an example, one of the most popular ones is “Farmers against SAFE – We love our animals”.”

    Both parties here are guilty of using social media to vilify the other. And after performing a very public and internationally-coordinated attack on all dairy farmers in NZ, how SAFE (etc) can try to play an innocent victim card is beyond me. Once again, SAFE (etc) attacked farmers who DO care for animals and were equally outraged by the actions caught on video. How can they expect anything but anger?

    There is a major problem with how animal activists have gone about their goal – they have tarred every farmer with the same brush. Publicly villainizing all farmers (including those who care for animal welfare) is counter productive to ending cruelty. It has polarised people on the issue, caused friction and stubbornness and can only create a massive middle ground where no satisfactory solution can be reached.

    This is a real shame because animal abuse DOES need to stop.

    • RowT 30.1

      Excellent comments. Ironically (considering the articles thrust), there is no doubt you will be shot down for making them.

      • Benji S 30.1.1

        Thanks RowT. Some contributors appear to be passionate to the point of delusion but I’m happy to discuss my thoughts with them anyway.

        I could see a positive outcome from this sh*tfest, if public outcry from this abuse gets the legislation cogs turning and quickly results in a positive outcome for animals. But like you said in an earlier post SAFE has skewed their conduct toward a PETAesque style – loud, often inaccurate and highly emotive, which could really just discredit any excellent work they do.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 30.1.1.1

          You understood the bit outlining their multiple attempts to bring this sort of behaviour to the attention of the ministry? The ministerial inaction?

          Where were all the good farmers a week ago? Are you seriously expecting people to believe you didn’t know this was happening?

          • Benji S 30.1.1.1.1

            Well I read the part about how SAFE “sat on the abuse footage for 2 years”, thus allowing the offending farms to continue operating. That, and..

            “Ironically there are two opposed attack lines being used by MPI, Dairy NZ and Nathan Guy – first that we are ‘mis-representing the industry’ – and second that we are holding onto footage for ‘our own purposes’. Therefore as an investigator I am in an impossible position – I can either gather enough evidence to prove that abuse is widespread or I can hand over the first, tiniest scrap of evidence – I cannot do both.”

            Actually they can do both – and should. I think that recording and releasing the animal abuse to authorities as it is found would have yielded a better result. Because they are able to act sooner, and if nothing had been done within a year (two years?) then you have a strong case of negligence on their part too. It is not SAFEs place to deny animals in need of care, and play detectives. A gross mistrust of authorities here has really cost SAFE credibility.

            • Sacha 30.1.1.1.1.1

              You seem to be missing the part of the story where MPI had been told previous times and did nothing. Had their chance.

              • Benji S

                Are you referring to this?

                “The few instances we filmed of calves being loaded onto trucks occurred in public on the side of the road. If we had reported these instances to MPI we would have been laughed at. Indeed the inspector I am working with at MPI has said that the 2014 footage (which the minister was so concerned about) is a “low priority” and that they have not begun looking into it.”

                They chose not to report blatant abuse because they thought it would be ignored – but it’s MPI’s fault? Who is the inspector at MPI who claims the 2014 footage is low priority? Without a name, that statement has no credibility at all.

                Perhaps you mean this part?

                “This year we did come across extreme abuse at a small slaughterhouse which we thought was urgent and occurring in private, and as a result we made the decision to cut our investigation short and hand footage of this over to MPI. We believe MPI didn’t take this seriously until several months later when media coverage and nationwide outrage forced them to take action.”

                Where MPI launched an investigation immediately, which SAFE are not immediately privy to the outcome of as the investigation is ongoing.

                “Mindful of the Minister’s attack when we saw what was on the camera we decided to hand the footage over immediately. Despite contacting MPI before I had even had a chance to sleep properly it took months for MPI to quietly announce that no prosecutions would be taken.”

                I would like to know why this was the case. A clear cut video of animal abuse – with no prosecution? If the issue is around how admissible hidden camera evidence is in court, then MPIs hands are tied and this REALLY needs to change. It would be a massive waste of time trying to prosecute someone when the sole evidence is not able to be used.

        • Rosie 30.1.1.2

          Benji. Please see my reply to RowT who I did try to engage with but who refuses to answer my genuine question about the well being of farmers.

          Like I said, there is an opportunity for a positive outcome but the farmers can’t see past SAFE and Farmwatch to their customers. It’s like the red mist has descended and theres no seeing through it.

          This is not SAFE’s fault. The blame does not lie with them.

          • Benji S 30.1.1.2.1

            OK Rosie – My take on your questions.

            “Is it any wonder, when MPI won’t act on complaints that they have to go next level with it?”

            From what I’ve read, when MPI received footage of animal abuse in Sept they immediately launched an investigation. The details of that case have not been released yet as it is ongoing. Like it or not, SAFE aren’t always going to be privy to the inner-workings of animal abuse investigations. So to assume nothing is being done because they are left in the dark, doesn’t mean anyone is getting away with animal abuse.

            “Third. Why should farmers “feel betrayed, threatened and blackmailed”. They feel betrayed because their abuses have been exposed? How backwards is that? In what way have they been blackmailed?”

            The farmers who feel betrayed are those who care for their animals welfare, were appalled at the actions of those farms and yet are being attacked by a broad smear campaign against their livelihood. It’s akin to the attitude that a few examples of police brutality caught on cellphone cameras in the US, means that all police are abusive monsters over there. It brings down public opinion of those who strive to do their best for their animals.

            “Finally, I have to ask. Farmers often work in isolating conditions, long hours and what may appear to be unrewarding work. The abuse of animals could have many different origins: Ignorance, desensitisation, frustration and exhaustion. None of it acceptable or tolerable. Are farmers getting enough support and information about coping with stress, and would this help reduce animal abuse if they were?”

            Good point. Suicide, depression and stress is prevalent in the farming community, and from what I’ve heard, the average farmer is not often about asking others for help. It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that depression leads to a general lack of caring about animal welfare, but once again it can’t be assumed as the norm.

      • Rosie 30.1.2

        RowT. Are you going to answer my question? I asked it in all sincerity.

        All we are getting is irrational misdirected anger and lack of reason from the farmers visiting this site. As a consumer of dairy products I would like to engage with the farmers themselves.

        There is a lot you can talk through calmly if you ask questions and listen to your customers, because thats what we are in the long run. Think of it as an exercise in surveying your customers and meeting their needs.

        You have an opportunity to face up to a bad situation and turn it around. This is fact is a golden opportunity but many of you are trashing it. If there’s any economic sabotage, it’s coming from your quarters, painful as that may be for you to see.

    • Sacha 30.2

      “farmers who DO care for animals and were equally outraged”

      Any links to that? It’s a voice I haven’t seen much sign of.

      • Benji S 30.2.1

        You’re asking for links to farmers who do care for animals? Surely you’re not that naive as to think every single farmer is an uncaring monster? I would start with the farmers who love their animals fb group if I were you.

  31. RowT 31

    I’m getting off this site. I’m too busy trying to keep my business afloat. I am over being lumped in with national, big business, cameron slater etc etc Not too many seem interested in engaging in any meaningful discussion. Few are prepared to conceded anything on either side of the debate. Everyone seems to only listen to opinions or follow threads reaffirming their own world view on both sides of the debate. The industry does improve it animal welfare practices over time. Dehorning, tail docking and inductions are a few examples of practices that have been phased out or improved. That is why farmers feel betrayed because they have been found guilty in the court of public opinion regardless of the truth, evidence or statistics. Many farmers have expressed disgust at the fellow farmers who treat animals so poorly. And for the record I have been defending safe and their supporters on farming threads with a similar level of frustration.

    • Sacha 31.1

      “Many farmers have expressed disgust at the fellow farmers who treat animals so poorly. ”

      Got any links for us to read?

    • Rosie 31.2

      “Not too many seem interested in engaging in any meaningful discussion”

      Well, for the third time RowT, I did try to engage but you refuse to engage with me.

      You can’t complain if you yourself refuse to engage.

      • RowT 31.2.1

        Rosie I’m not ignoring u I’m busy. Also my phone is awkward to navigate on. Also I didn’t know anyone had responded to me. Keep engaging. Most of us aren’t right wing nut jobs. A few maybe lol.

        • Ad 31.2.1.1

          Plenty of nut jobs around.

          What kind of farming do you do?

          Do you think this story is a one-off, or do you think there may be more bad instances to uncover?

          • RowT 31.2.1.1.1

            Hi Ad. I’m a dairy farmer. I don’t think any sensible farmer is saying the industry is 100% squeeky clean. But it is no where near like SAFE are trying to portray.

            Absolutely deal to animal abuse. The fact that MPI, some truck operators, and one small abattoir are not doing their jobs appropriately and/or mistreating animals needs sorting. But SAFE have targeted farmers – a bit like attacking car manufacturers for drink drivers.

            There are other instances of welfare to address. For instance dehorning calves with no local. No farmers I know do this but I’m sure some others do. However it is legal and that is not good. It has improved by lowering the age limit but that’s not good enough.

            So there is middle ground. Unsurprisingly farmers feel threatened by SAFEs anti farming agend. Comparing them to ISIS is ridiculous. But even though moderate Christians share common ground with moderate Muslims they can not tolerate ISIS. Kind of the same divide here maybe – minus the be headings and drone strikes so far!

            • Ad 31.2.1.1.1.1

              I definitely see middle ground.

              The tension at base is this: New Zealand’s dairy industry has been an amazing success based on low cost and high volume production. That didn’t always involve a huge amount of concern for the cow.

              But its future will rely less and less on low costs and high volume, as Fonterra and others turn the great ship Value Add away from commodification. There have been too many scares to the dairy industry to see it otherwise.

              Dairying’s future will rely more and more on the consumer proving the value we place on the cow and its pasture. Very similar I think to Icebreaker’s tag being able to take you all the way back to the specific farmer and the specific flock. You can see it in the boutique producers like Lewis Road and Puhoi. Or in footage of ‘organic’ chickens and their eggs.

              That means expecting to see the actual welfare of cows. A pretty high degree of scrutiny coming your way, in time, to feed all those fussy shoppers at Sainsbury’s, New World, and Coles.

              This activist action is I am sure a nasty shock. But consider it a signal of the challenge all dairy farmers will face as they go through this massive transition from 20th-century production ethics, to 21st century production ethics.

              • RowT

                All fair comment. The issue is lumping us all in together eg there is child abuse in nz therefore all kiwis are abusers.

                We sell raw milk directly to local consumers on a weekly basis. So we are well aware of consumer expectations and relationships with customers. Bit difficult to do that on the scale of Fonterra though.

                Our farm us predominantly all grass with a small amount of PKE (which in itself is a byproduct if another industry), which we are weaning out of our system. We also use a tiny amount of urea and only biological fertilizers. Non of these things earn us a premium but they do restrict our production and therefore our ability to generate profit. So you can see my frustration when well meaning but under informed people lump us together.

                I wonder if consumers are prepared to pay the premium on the costs of their expectations. Not everyone can afford Lewis Road.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  I wonder if farmers are prepared to stop paying their employees less than the minimum wage, and do more to prevent so many of them being maimed and killed.

                  Nah, you’ll lobby the government with special pleading as to why the law shouldn’t apply to you. Get on board the ETS like everyone else has to, then perhaps your case for how community minded you all are won’t ring so hollow.

                  • RowT

                    Hi OAB. Im trying to interact on this site in a level headed way but man you are pushing my buttons. Note i am not threatening you etc but expressing my feelings lol. Ive read a few of your posts and you are dont really seem to want to do anything except lump all farmers in one boat and put words in our mouths. Now this nonsense about farmers pleading special circustances blahblahblah. farmers are obligated under the law like any other employer to meet a minimum standard of work place practice and remuneration. This is fair enough.

                    We (my wife and I),have always done this. Some off our employees were aresholes, but not all of them some were great. When we decided we didnt want to employ anyone anymore because of the hassle we down sized our sharemilking job so we didnt have to. My previous bosses have not always been exemplar farming bosses. You know what I did? I sucked it up and got on with life and when i decided i’d had enough i found a better job.

                    There seems to be a perception among some people on here that farmers are some sort of great power base, and that there is some great conspiracy and/or collussion between us and the government. This is ridiculous. We live in a democracy. We are a tiny proportion of the electorate. Believe me I have a relatively large mortgage over my head, of my own choosing, but I still believe in capital gains tax and vote green. So grow up and present some logical discussion and stop generalising about what farmers are or are not. We are just people no worse or better than any others.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      I am generalising about farmers in precisely the way you are generalising about “people on here”: I’m not surprised it pushes your buttons, because your lumping people together pushes mine.

                      Your previous comment wonders whether people will be able to afford the cost of the kind of ethical farming you practice. I’m afraid you have it backward: the country – and ethical farmers, cannot afford the destructive and anti-social practices under discussion, from the special pleading over the ETS, to health and safety and other poor employment practices, to the state of our rivers.

                      It isn’t a “lunatic fringe” doing this special pleading, it’s the farmers’ union Fonterra. It seems you are quite selective in what you are prepared to “suck up”, eh.

                      I vote Green too, and it sounds like you and I have quite a lot in common. I doubt you confine your political opinion to agricultural matters, just as I I look beyond the 50k zone. That said, I don’t feel responsible for the dumb shit townies do any more than you are for crap farming practices: in short, don’t be so defensive.

                    • RowT []

                      I said ‘some people on here’ which totally changes the tone and context. I’m not lumping people together I’m pointing out a portion of a group.

                      So forget your criticisms of my defensiveness and stick to the issues.

                      You are overstating farmers power in a democracy.

                      Wrap are subject to the same laws as anyone be they employment, water quality, ETS etc

                      ‘Special pleading’? Wasn’t the article at the source of this thread a bout freedom of speech?

                      Even though I’m a left leaning greenie farmer I’m also a realistic and change takes time. I haven’t defended any farmers using these poor practices. Change is coming. If you want to speed it up a bit buy a farm and run it ethically.

                    • Benji S

                      I’ve enjoyed your comments RowT and it seems you have a balanced and decent approach to farming and animal rights. If more farmers were like that there wouldn’t be the issues there are, I’m sure.

                • Gael

                  Thanks for hanging in there RowT, I guess since its free market rulz, the market will take a little time to adjust but once consumers turn away as we have, in more numbers then that ship will turn and the price of good quality welfare considered milk products will once again become mainstream…the norm…. returns will normalise for you..always ups and downs in dairy..in nz at least.

  32. Concerned onlooker 32

    Farmwatch and SAFE need to outline what they class as animal cruelty in the dairy industry. Also they need to actually say how long it took to find this cruelty on dairy farms. As if your drive through the Waikato where they say this was filmed, you are travelling past hundreds of dairy farms, even thousands.

    Also they need to separate out what happened to the calves by the transport industry and the one pet food company they filmed. The actions of these were very poor and I like many hope that they have the law comes down on them. But remember they Are not dairy farmers but most comments I have read are lumping them with the farmers.

    As for the main point of this article, it is very one sided, and it looks like the two groups are as bad as each other. I have seen some of the comments posted on both pages. However the big difference is that if someone posts information on the Farmwatch or SAFE face book pages that they disagree with, the comment is removed and the person who posted it is then blocked from posting again.

  33. jdarroch 33

    Interesting reading the views of this vet (not a rabid vegan such as myself):

    “It is also upsetting that we can do other things to calves which were not captured in the video – did you know that it is perfectly legal to use a red-hot iron to burn the growing horns out of the head of a calf without using any anaesthesia or pain relief?

    This process is becoming nearly exclusive to dairy calves – most beef cattle are now polled (hornless) thanks to rational and humane selective breeding that rendered them so.

    It is upsetting that dairy cows are pregnant for most of their lives and spend most of the year lactating. It is upsetting that they can be expected to walk many kilometers each day on stone tracks and concrete, and that this causes severe hoof disease in many dairy cows.

    The metabolic and reproductive diseases that dairy cattle endure are amplified to extreme levels by the production pressures we have placed on them. The environmental problems caused by the pressure placed on dairy-farmed land are equally exaggerated.

    None of this can be defended as being simply how things have always been and how they must always be.”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff-nation/assignments/share-your-news-and-views/13407774/Calf-video-a-missed-opportunity-for-sensible-debate

    • Benji S 33.1

      That was a very well written view. I agree that there is a middle ground that both sides could find that would benefit everyone, and extremist actions from both sides are unfortunately detracting from the messages and potentially destroying that opportunity.

    • left for deadshark 33.2

      Hello jdarroch,
      Have you read the the Rural news (15/12 ) bordering on slander I would have thought. good post and good luck

  34. Saarbo 34

    Interesting, Agree that some of the SUNDAY programme showed improvements need to be made around the way some people handle Bobby Calves… the scene in the abattoir was shocking. Personally as a farmer Ive never seen people handle calves this way.

    But I also think that Farmwatch and SAFE show how incredibly disconnected society has become from agriculture, Im guessing that not more than 100 years ago most people would have had a direct connection to a farm or would have had close relatives on a farm. As a farmer and from a family that has probably been farming forever…some of the things that SAFE/Farmwatch say are just idiotic: e.g.

    “It is upsetting that dairy cows are pregnant for most of their lives and spend most of the year lactating..”

    Actually, THAT IS FARMING!!!, these cows are also kept in pristine condition because that gets the best production…Im thinking that these guys have probably got a problem with that as well. Sorry, these guys lost me after that. They also lost me with the advertisement they put in The Guardian.

    • Ergo Robertina 34.1

      But this isn’t just about a few people abusing bobby calves but an industry that hasn’t built infrastructure for the 2 million or so unwanted calves every year.
      The Road Transport Forum’s Ken Shirley told Farmers Weekly :
      ”Transport operators who carted livestock wanted calf collection facilities improved on many dairy farms, especially in older dairying regions.
      “Animal welfare issues are mixed with health and safety issues when the loading facilities are sub-standard.
      ”Newer dairying districts tended to have larger, corporate dairy farms with purpose-built calf facilities or suitable former sheep pens and races.”
      https://farmersweekly.co.nz/article/no-impact-from-safe-campaign?p=1
      I doubt it’s as clear-cut as that between corporate and older farms, as many of the older farms may have been bought and bundled together without modern infrastructure necessarily in place.

      I’m also from a farming background and there is a complaisant fatalism and tolerance for the rip shit and bust mentality possessed by some farmers.
      As a kid 20 years ago people talked about ‘coathanger cows’ a neighbour owned (on one of the early multi-farm operations), and the farmer who kicked rambunctious lambs on the shearing stand, but doing something to stop these abuses was not an option.
      Then 10 years back farming people shook their heads about the mass clearing of trees for dairy, but again, nothing was done (e.g farming leaders writing editorial pieces about the risks).
      You reap what you sow.

  35. Kelly 35

    I’d like to know why this person can openly talk about people approaching businesses that financially support SAFE and say how horrible this all is when in fact this the pot calling the kettle black. SAFE and followers have targeted many businesses in the same manner (ie totalspan and Honda) on various occasions. I think their most notable bullying of an organisation would have to be the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation. It is known that they have had to “relieve the dreadful overtones directed toward (their) organisation from SAFE” and that for the last two years they have been approached in a threatening manner from SAFE. Why is it that these people paint SAFE & co like saints that can do no wrong when in fact they are dictating where other charities much needed money comes from. Wake up people, no wonder the farmers are mad when all the see is this one sided b*******.

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