Today show host Karl Stefanovic has taken aim at protesters, attacking the methods of animal welfare and climate activists, which he described as “bullying” tactics.
“These activists seem to be taking over anything they want, and now they’re going after our farmers too,” Stefanovic said on Friday morning.
The interview put the spotlight on long-running concerns farmers have about activists entering their properties to expose concerns about how animals are housed. There is very little common ground between the two groups, an issue Yahoo News Australia has highlighted. While the interview reinforced concerns many farmers clearly feel, a vegan activist at the centre of the controversy slammed issues raised during the segment as a distraction from what he sees as the real problem.
Why are pig farmers upset by activists?
In an interview with Australian Pork Limited (APL) CEO Margot Andrae, the Today show host said activist tactics like disrupting retail outlets and meat producers “needs to stop”. “Farmers are contributing and these people clearly aren’t,” he said.
During the interview Ms Andre said farmers no longer feel safe, saying activists have “gone too far” and have installed recording equipment on properties. The segment also featured an emotional testimony of Ms Andrae speaking before Senate Estimates, alleging activists had used deceptive tactics to get inside her office.
Controversial animal rights activist responds to TV segment
Farm Transparency Project founder Chris Delforce was prominently involved in the action which unnerved Ms Andrae and her staff at APL 10 days ago.
He also filmed disturbing video showing pigs being painfully gassed inside a number of Victorian abattoirs. His footage prompted an announcement yesterday that the Victorian government would hold a parliamentary inquiry into the industry. Mr Delforce hailed the inquiry as a “step in the right direction”.
Noting the Today segment aired a day after the parliamentary inquiry was announced, he told Yahoo News Australia, he believes APL is now trying to “deflect” from welfare issues by attacking activist conduct.
“They’ve been operating these cruel gas chambers for 30 years now,” he said. “Even farmers are shocked by what the footage has revealed and are calling for change,” he continued.
Why are activist’s tactics controversial?
Farm Transparency Project has controversially published the addresses of farms online, leading farmers to say they no longer feel comfortable because their family homes are often located on their properties.
Protesters have also chained themselves to equipment and disrupted farming operations.
Do the tactics of activists work?
While controversial, action by activists has resulted in major changes in farming practices. In 2009, Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes aired footage taken by a Tasmanian pig advocate inside a farm where pigs were crawling with maggots, leading to pressure on the industry from Coles supermarkets to phase out the metal and concrete sow stalls pigs are often housed in.
A separate illegal investigation by Farm Transparency Project in 2022 uncovered pigs continuing to be housed in sow stalls long after the industry’s voluntary phase-out.
Undercover footage shot by Animals Australia and aired on 4 Corners in 2011 led to nation-wide protests in capital cities and a brief suspension of the live cattle export industry. It showed Australian animals being horrifically treated by workers in Indonesia.
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