The RSPCA has emphasised its defence of animal welfare, not rights, after allegations of extremism by farm organisations.
Concerns were raised by over 300 delegates at the annual New South Wales Farmers Association conference over the RSPCA’s role in monitoring livestock across the state.
The delegates passed a motion urging that the special-constable-status of the RSPCA be removed in regard to commercial livestock.
“We flatly reject any suggestion the RSPCA NSW is biased or using our brand to drive an agenda…we are not an animal rights organisation,” RSPCA NSW CEO Steve Coleman said.
“RSPCA Inspectors enforce existing animal protection legislation on behalf of the NSW state government.”
Separately to the inspecting role, the RSPCA works to promote uptake of husbandry and management practices, Coleman said.
“The RSPCA looks forward to maintaining a positive relationship with stakeholders across the farming industry, working together to ensure animals are cared for and treated humanely, as required by law,” he said.
Coleman said 99 per cent of the 12,000 complaints the RSPCA NSW receives annually do not result in prosecution, but rather the organisation working positively with the community to find a “mutually beneficial outcome for the animals and their owners, including farmers.”
The allegations follow projected heavy penalties for farm break-ins following incidents where welfare advocates entered abattoirs and piggeries to shoot undercover footage.
RSPCA NSW is investigating footage released by animal rights group PETA, allegedly showing cruelty in shearing sheds in NSW and around Australia.
Speaking at the NSW Nationals annual conference in Queanbeyan, Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce responded to the pork industry’s call for harsher penalties for activists and said that state and federal governments were working to protect the industry from “vigilantes.”