Just a quick note on the Animal Justice Fund, administered by SAFE, funded from Jan Cameron’s (founder of the hugely-successful outdoor equipment company, Kathmandu) fortune which allocates $2 million for whistleblowers. Between $5 000 and $30 000 can be awarded in each instance that leads to a successful prosecution or ‘significant animal welfare outcome.’
To date, at least six workers have ‘dobbed in’ bosses for animal cruelty. But none want to accept the reward.
All were for dairy farms and piggeries. None of the workers were still employed by the farms they were laying complaints against, so the cases and information are considered ‘historical’ and hence a low priority for investigation. Four of these cases were referred to MAF. According to SAFE’s Hans Kriek:
Paddocks were in bad shape, there were stones and lame cows. There were high mortality rates amongst calves. Dying animals were being left to rot in paddocks. With the pig farms we had the usual complaints … that the conditions were terrible and enclosures weren’t cleaned out and the animals were standing a foot deep in their own muck.
Yet, no breaches of the relevant welfare codes were found in any case.
There is some interesting editorial spin, in an article entitled, Workers dob in bosses for animal cruelty, quoting Federated Farmers’ Sam McIvor ‘maintaining’ (as if this is an accepted point) at the end of the piece that the self-regulation approach has been successful and the industry’s ‘voluntary audit’ scheme has been working with 115 out of 124 farms successfully passing audit.
These are the same audits that the Pork Industry Board attempted to keep secret by developing a legal strategy to exempt the reports from requests under the Official Information Act 1982. Back in July, McIvor argued that a balance needed to be struck between the interests of pig farmers and the public right to information:
He said the board wanted to be accountable to pork-buying customers, but most customers did not care about farm conditions, just whether they had passed a minimum standard. “There does have to be some trust and the customers need to be able to trust us that we have the processes in place.”
So it’s down to trust now?
This is a brazen claim from an industry which had just been publicly shamed by an investigative media piece. The whole process of these voluntary audits and product labeling were introduced as an attempt to forestall stricter regulation (not such a worry) and regain credibility in the eyes of a shocked public, many of whom made it very clear that they no longer trust pig farmers to properly care for animals.