A peak body representing Australian farmers has called for the closure of a Facebook page that implies hundreds of farmers are connected with animal cruelty.
The social media group Aussie Farms uploaded an interactive map with farmers details, and has urged people to gather images, videos and other documents in relation to the addresses revealed.
National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson said the implications could be dire and has demanded Facebook close the page promoting the map immediately and for the group to be stripped of its charity status.
“Farmers’ privacy, their right to farm and most disturbingly, their safety and that of their families and animals, are at risk,” Ms Simson said.
“Australian farmers have had enough and we will not stand by and watch attempts to destroy farms, families and rural communities."
ALSO MAKING NEWS: Soggy Sunday night a boost for some, while others miss out
Ms Simson said the NFF had fielded calls from farmers who had been included on the map, in some instances who were represented as running businesses that in fact, they do not.
“They are rightly distressed that their name has incorrectly been linked to ‘animal cruelty’,” she said.
“They are extremely anxious and very angry that their workplace, and their home, has become the target of extreme and dangerous activities.”
Aussie Farms is a registered charity and has been linked to a number of trespass incidents, including an incident in December where 55 protesters forced their way into an abattoir in Nhill, Victoria, reports the NFF.
"Their agenda is simple and straightforward: they want to see an end to farms, and that means an end to many farmers and the contribution they make,” Ms Simon said.
READ ALSO: Dubbo Turf Club hosts Tunes on the Track
“Almost every day, we’re seeing examples of activists accessing farms and businesses without permission, seeking to disrupt the work our farmers do.
Ms Simson said these types of stunts risk human and animal well-being and are deeply offensive.
"The presence of unapproved people in farm environments has the potential to spread bacteria and disease which could impact the whole food chain, not to mention the trade implications,” she said.
"It's also important to remember that farms are also family homes."
Ms Simson said the NFF had called on Facebook to take the page down immediately.
"If the page is not taken down today, we seek a meeting with Facebook’s Australian representatives to discuss,” she said.
ALSO MAKING NEWS: NSW Farmers still has no answers about how rail route was chosen
“The charitable status of the group must be retracted by the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission. Their business model is to openly flout Australia’s laws to undermine farming and agriculture in Australia.
Ms Simon said on Monday the NFF spoke with, both the Minister and Shadow Minister for Agriculture, who have condemned the group’s behaviours and objectives.
"I will also write to the Police in each state and territory, alerting them to the 'library' of imagery on the Aussie Farms website, questioning how the material was collected," she said.
Ms Simson said the NFF is seeking legal counsel on the implied link the map makes to the farmers represented and animal cruelty; and in regards to any potential infringement of privacy and trespass laws.
"As a matter of priority, we will be advocating for laws that guarantee farmers’ freedom to farm. Laws that carry harsh penalties for those that seek to impede this freedom," Ms Simson said.