Meat & Livestock News

Victorian Farmers Federation Challenges Proposed Animal Welfare Legislation


  • The Victorian Government’s proposed Animal Care and Protection draft Bill is under public consultation, with concerns raised by the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF).
  • VFF identifies three main areas of concern: discretionary powers for licensing, the potential for legal challenges by animal activists, and new offences targeting farm businesses.
  • Farmers are encouraged to submit their feedback by 25 March 2024 using a template provided by the VFF.

The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) is voicing its concerns over the Victorian Government’s proposed changes to animal welfare laws, encapsulated in the Animal Care and Protection draft Bill. Currently open for public consultation on the Engage Victoria website, the draft Bill aims to regulate animal welfare practices across the state.

To facilitate farmer feedback, the VFF has prepared a submission template that aligns with its stance on the proposed legislation.

While the draft Bill ostensibly allows farmers to continue their operations as usual, producing food and fibre for both local and international markets, the VFF has pinpointed three critical areas where the legislation could impose “unnecessary and unfair risks” on farmers.

These include the government’s discretionary power to establish licensing and compliance regimes, which the VFF fears could be misused to target on-farm practices for political gains. The federation argues that any licensing should be explicitly defined within the legislation itself to prevent misuse.

Another significant concern is the bill’s language, which the VFF describes as “vague, subjective, and ambiguous.” This could potentially embolden animal activists to initiate legal challenges against both the government and farmers, undermining the clarity and enforceability of animal care requirements.

The VFF suggests that care requirements should be detailed in specific regulations and guidelines tailored to different animal types to mitigate this risk.

Furthermore, the draft Bill introduces new offences specifically targeting businesses involved in intensive animal farming, transportation, or animal shows. The VFF contends that these offences are redundant, given that general care and protection requirements are already covered elsewhere in the legislation. It argues for equal treatment of all farm businesses under the law.

The VFF is preparing a comprehensive submission to the government, outlining its concerns and suggesting areas for improvement in the draft Bill. It urges farmers to participate in the consultation process by submitting their feedback using the provided template before the 25 March 2024 deadline.

This collective action aims to ensure that the final legislation is fair, and practical, and does not place undue burdens on the farming community.