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    Pig site sparks debate

    Wed 25 Sep 2013 by Colin Bettles (Farm Online)

    This article relates to the following facility: Boen Boe Stud Piggery (Aussie Pigs)

    AUSTRALIAN Pork Limited (APL) has taken action against a website run by Animal Liberation which claims to expose the "inside story" on intensive livestock management practices.

    APL filed a complaint with Domain Administration (auDA), the policy authority and industry self-regulatory body for the .au domain space, citing concerns about the spread of misinformation on industry practices.

    APL wants the website “Australian Pig Farming: The Inside Story” removed or transferred to APL ownership, saying it’s being used to publish images taken in potentially illegal covert operations on piggeries in recent months, including at Blantyre Farms and Lansdowne Piggery in NSW.

    Adding to the controversy, Animal Liberation issued a statement this week saying it had now published footage taken from a sixth Australian piggery as part of the ongoing internet campaign.

    “Boen Boe Stud Piggery, at Joadja NSW, is the latest intensive pig farm to be exposed by Animal Liberation ACT, with (the) release of covertly obtained photos and footage depicting the same cruelty seen earlier at Wally’s Piggery, Allain’s Piggery, Tennessee Piggery, Lansdowne Piggery and, most recently, Strathvean Piggery,” the statement said.

    The animal rights group said APL's bid to get ownership of the campaign website transferred was an effort to "prevent the Australian public from seeing what life is truly like for the pigs who end up on the dinner table".

    Animal Liberation ACT spokesperson Clare Atkinson said APL was “getting scared”.

    “Now that we’ve exposed five additional piggeries with more to come, they know they can’t keep using the same line and are instead trying to get these investigations swept under the rug,” Ms Atkinson said.

    “It’s a desperate bid to maintain the secrecy their industry relies on.”

    Industry sources are concerned the covert footage is being exposed to naive audiences with minimal knowledge of industry practices, and also promoted to television media outlets without context.

    APL and producers are also angered the website names piggery proprietors personally along with their contact details, including location, which could target individuals for abuse.

    Manager of Boen Boe Stud Piggery David McLeod said he only learnt about the footage being published on the Animal Liberation website on Monday and was still working through the material.

    But he said it was “strange” that the website’s introduction to the covertly obtained footage actually states the farming practices are industry-accepted and “entirely legal”.

    “As they say themselves, we’re not doing anything that’s illegal,” he said.

    “We haven’t had sow stalls for 15 years and they’re being phased out over time and the farrowing crates (used to reduce sows crushing and trampling piglets) are legal.”

    Footage taken by Animal Liberation at Boen Boe Piggery in September 2013 depicting "industry-standard cruelty in farrowing crates".

    Mr McLeod said any comparisons between practices at his piggery and the extreme acts of animal cruelty at Wally’s Piggery were false. The cruelty exposed last year by Animal Liberation at Wally's, near Murrumbateman in NSW, sparked an RSPCA investigation with 53 court attendance notices (CANs) with respect to alleged incidents of animal cruelty served to Wally's owners this August. The matter is listed for mention in Yass Court on October 8.

    “We’re a long way off being in that category,” Mr McLeod said.

    The RSPCA criticised Animal Liberation for obstructing the Wally's investigation by failing to provide statements to verify the footage.

    RSPCA NSW chief executive officer Steve Coleman also said that exposing potentially prejudicial footage to the public compromised successful prosecutions.

    "Law enforcement agencies, that includes the RSPCA, continue to be frustrated because as footage is released direct into the public arena, it immediately prejudices the opportunity to use that footage," Mr Coleman said last year.

    Mr McLeod said working out how to deal with the illegal trespass and activism to gather the video evidence and images was an industry problem, rather than something individual piggeries needed to manage alone.

    APL chief executive officer Andrew Spencer declined to comment when contacted by Fairfax Agricultural Media.