A sheep producer listed on the infamous Aussie Farms map has warned farmers to be diligent with animal welfare practices and mindful of stock grazing next to public roads.
Matthew and Tanya Tonissen unexpectedly found their Chrome Sheep Stud at Hamilton had been listed with geographic co-ordinates on the Aussie Farms map.
Speaking at the Pasture Agronomy Service conference in Wodonga, Mr Tonissen said he was mystified why his stud was listed along with feedlots, piggeries, fish hatcheries and race clubs.
Agricultural Minister David Littleproud has labelled the Aussie Farms map as an “attack map for activists’’ listing hundreds of family farms and their addresses, and called for the map to be pulled down.
Minister Littleproud sent a clear message to the vegan activists that trespass would result in charges and penalties.
Aussie Farms claim the map brings transparency to the agricultural industry and would remove farmers from the map only if they had ceased their farming activities.
Southern NSW agronomist and beef producer Mark Lucas said the map was a real challenge to livestock production.
“These people arrive outside a property always looking for the bad story rather the good one,’’ he said.
Matt Tonissen sells around 1000 rams a year and is passionate about his sheep enterprise.
“It came as a shock in the light of not having any prior issues beforehand that may have sparked interest in what were up to,’’ he said.
“Aussie Farms have a core belief animals shouldn’t be farmed for any purposes – the most they go is cats and dogs, and anything above that is a real no, no.
“The scary thing is they are a charity organization which has tax incentives for those wanting to be part of it.’’
Mr Tonissen has written to Aussie Farms requesting removal of Chrome stud from the map but heard no reply.
He also sent a letter of complaint to the Office of Australian Information Commission and reported the offensive social media posts on Aussie Farms to Facebook.
“I see it as an invasion of privacy – we may be on there because of our social media presence and the fact we are on Google maps,’’ Mr Tonissen said.
He supports the use of the National Farmers Federation’s Farmers Fighting Fund to deal with the organization, revoking the charity status of activist groups and increasing the penalties for trespass.
“In sheep and cattle production, we may never see them – the ones I feel for are the more intensive operations like the piggeries and egg producers,’’ he said.
“As farmers we need to be diligent of what we do and be mindful if we are farming next to roads and public areas think about what we put next to the road – if there is a dead animal there, remove it.
“As an industry, we should be looking after our image as let’s face it, 95 per cent of us there for the health of our animals and we do have a duty of care for them.’’
Mr Tonissen has since increased on-farm security.