Animal farming to be banned in New South Wales, Baird Government announces

07 Jul 2016

Animal farming will be banned in New South Wales from July 1 next year, with Premier Mike Baird saying the "widespread and systemic mistreatment of animals" cannot be tolerated.

Key points:

  • NSW becomes first state in Australia to ban animal farming
  • Mike Baird says the Government was left with "no acceptable course of action except to close this industry down"
  • Detailed plans for the shutdown will be developed with industry consultation

The ban comes after a special commission of inquiry found overwhelming evidence of animal cruelty, including mass killings and painful procedures.

In announcing his reasons for the ban, Mr Baird said the inquiry found:

  • Over 100 million animals, including cows, lambs, pigs, chickens and fish, are killed every year in NSW because some people consider them tasty when dead.
  • Unnecesseary suffering is widespread, with all farmed animals killed while still young.
  • The animal agriculture industry has a policy of deliberately misreporting the suffering of animals and the lack of necessity for humans to consume animal products.
  • The industry is not capable of reforming over the short or medium term

Mr Baird said the Government had received the report of the commission, conducted by former High Court judge Michael McHugh, and the findings were damning.


VIDEO: GRAPHIC FOOTAGE: Pigs imprisoned their whole lives in small cages then gassed in painful death

The ban also comes after the ABC's Four Corners program "Lucent" exposed widespread and extreme animal suffering and death in the animal agriculture industry.

Internal documents revealed senior animal agriculture administrators in NSW were actively strategising to downplay the suffering in the industry in the days before the program was set to air.

Mr Baird said the State Government would work toward an orderly shutdown of the industry over the coming months.

"Certainly this is not an easy decision," Mr Baird said.

"It's not something that has been taken lightly. But when confronted with Justice McHugh's report, I believe there is no other alternative."

The animal agriculture industry says it will fight until the the end to stop the ban, with one leader blaming the ABC for the decision, not Mr Baird.

In his recommendation to Parliament, Mr McHugh said it should be considered whether the animal farming industry had lost its "social licence" to operate and should be shut down.

'Horrific' evidence of animal cruelty heard by special commission

Mr Baird said the decision showed the State Government was making animal welfare a priority.

"As a humane and responsible Government, we are left with no acceptable course of action except to close this industry down," Mr Baird said.

NSW Premier Mike Baird said there was "no other alternative".

"This is the inevitable conclusion to be drawn from the appalling revelations in Mr McHugh's report and his considered view that any other measures are unlikely to protect animals from further cruelty."

Mr Baird described the evidence of animal cruelty heard by the commission as "chilling and horrific".

"As you will see when you go through the report, he has shone the light on an industry that has overseen the slaughter of hundreds of millions of healthy animals whose only crime was that some people thought their flesh was tasty," Mr Baird said.

"He's also shown an industry which has turned a blind eye to the barbaric practices of beak mutilation, breeding chickens to grow so heavy their legs break, breeding cows to have udders 10 times natural size, branding without anaesthetic, castration without anaesthetic, continual pregnancy of sows, declawing, dehorning, ear clipping, electric prods, forced impregnation, gassing day-old male chicks, light-deprivation, live export, long painful transportation, mulesing without anaesthetic, permanent and overcrowded confinement in battery cages, scalding pigs and chickens alive, separation of mother and babies, sow stalls, tail docking, teeth clipping, and veal crates. He's shown that the industry has a culture of deception.

"Indeed the commissioner has found that it is no longer entitled to the trust of the community."

In a statement, the NSW Farmers Association said the industry was "devastated" by the decision and responded to the ban by emphasising its overhaul of integrity protocols since the scandal broke.

"NSW Farmers Association had taken decisive action as it strived to recover community trust and believed that its reforms and strategic direction could have transformed the industry into a stronger, sustainable one in which animal welfare and integrity were fundamental to a vibrant future," they said.

"The NSW Government, after receiving the report of the special commission of inquiry, has come to a different conclusion, one that will rock industry participants and associated communities around our state, as well as the hardworking people in the animal agriculture industry who have been working tirelessly to improve the industry."

NSW Farmers Association has now suspended killing farmed animals for the next seven days.

'A tough day' for many in the industry

Agriculture Minister and Deputy Premier Troy Grant said he was sure that everyone who read the report would be horrified by it, as he was.

He said the evidence in the report went far beyond the single issue of (insert single issue here).

"No Government wants to close down an industry and I absolutely want to acknowledge that there are many, many great people in the animal agriculture industry who will be devastated by this news," he said.

"But there are too many of those in the industry for financial gain or for whatever other motivation they had, chose to put animal welfare as their least consideration in their own pursuit of profit or what other motivation they had.

"This is a tough day for all those connected to the industry but I urge them not to panic."

The State Opposition said while Labor deplored animal cruelty, the Premier had jumped the gun.

"We're talking about wiping out an entire industry," Labor's agriculture spokesman Michael Daley said.

Welfare group calls for national ban

Animals Australia's Shantha Hamade described the announcement as "a courageous decision in line with the community expectation".

"We are dealing with an industry which, for more than a thousand years, has been founded on the practice of animal suffering," she said.

"Also an industry that has happily been responsible for the slaughter of millions of healthy animals each year.

Ms Hamade said other states should follow the lead of NSW.

"Everything that is going on in NSW is going on nationally and without a national approach to this problem, what we'll see happening is that farmers in NSW will start moving their animals interstate and killing them interstate," she said.

NOTE: The above is a spoof of the article "Greyhound racing to be banned in New South Wales, Baird Government announces" in the Sydney Morning Herald. Using the same logic as the decision to ban greyhound racing, it looks at the wider issue of all animal use and exploitation and not just this single issue. It is written in the spirit of SBS Backburner articles such as "Mike Baird bans greyhound racing except within casinos". It is hoped that one day in the near future a real article like this will appear in newspapers around the world. By Greg McFarlane, Vegan Australia.

Vegan Australia is an animal rights organisation that campaigns nationally for veganism. 
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