Animal cruelty is real: Delforce

13 Jul, 2014 04:00 AM
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11
 
File photo.
"I wanted to show people that animal cruelty does happen in Australia"
File photo.

THE animal rights activist behind the Aussie Farms website says his work stemmed from his initial involvement publishing video footage two years ago after an approach from Animal Liberation ACT and NSW.

Chris Delforce said the two animal rights groups had obtained video footage inside Wally’s Piggery at Murrumbateman, about 30 kilometres from Canberra, and asked him to create a website, which launched Aussiepigs.com.

Media exposure of the piggery’s animal handling practices led to public outrage and 53 animal cruelty charges being laid after pigs were seen being beaten with a sledgehammer and other shocking vision.

Mr Delforce said after the Wally’s Piggery expose, Animal Liberation ACT and NSW obtained more footage that was also added to the website.

He said Animal Liberation then decided to turn the website's attention on the whole industry, rather than just on the one piggery and making it seem like a one-off.

The two State groups then had to pull out of the campaign “because of a few legal issues mostly”, he said.

But he said the campaign was “growing so much we decided it was better to create a new organisation to cover it”.

“My idea coming into it was that I wanted to show people that animal cruelty does happen in Australia,” he said.

“This line that everyone says ‘oh it doesn’t happen here, that’s just over in America’, I wanted to prove that wrong, which is why I’m focussing on Aussie-pigs (and) Aussie Farms.”

Mr Delforce said Aussie Farms was a small volunteer run organisation comprising full time students or other members with full time jobs.

“They say things like we manipulate footage yet they’re never able to provide an example of how we’ve manipulated footage”

He said they received the footage anonymously and reviewed it extensively before editing the vision into a more condensed package to post online.

They also promoted the video footage on Facebook and distributed media releases in the hope of sparking media interest.

“It just happens to be that I’m able to look through footage and put it online and keep the website up to date and that sort of thing,” he said.

“There wasn’t really anyone who wanted to front the media, I certainly didn’t want to, but it just sort of happened that my name got put to it.”

Mr Delforce said he’d never trespassed himself to gather the video footage, nor was it something he wanted to do.

Neither does he meet with the people who do the trespassing to gather the video, he said.

“I don’t know who they are,” he said.

Mr Delforce said he had a post office box and received an email notifying him when something had arrived.

He said sometimes he also received emails with a link to a file sharing website to access the footage, stressing it was easy to create an untraceable email address.

Mr Delforce said Aussie Farms had no formal links with other animal rights groups like Animals Australia but they had recently shared footage taken at a facility in Corowa.

Mr Delforce said the majority of industry criticism he’s seen and read about the Aussie Farms campaign and his work are just “lies”.

“They say things like we manipulate footage yet they’re never able to provide an example of how we’ve manipulated footage,” he said.

“I don’t understand how they’re saying that we’ve manipulated footage of a shed with sow stalls.

“What can you manipulate there?

“The fact is that there are thousands of animals trapped in cages - there’s no manipulation happening there.

“It’s literally just showing people what is happening and that itself is pissing people off (and) it’s annoying farmers because it’s showing what they’re getting away with legally.

“(This) is not about those few farmers who go way off the track and break the law and commit real horrific crimes.

“I’m more interested in showing people what the standards are - what the farmers believe is okay - and if they believe it’s okay, then why do they have an issue with it being shown?”

Becoming an activist

Born in Adelaide, Chris Delforce has been living in the ACT for 17 years and turned vegetarian at age 10.

He was interested in human rights issues during his teenage years which led to him touring Zambia, South Africa and Indonesia, with aid organisations looking at various projects that also involved web design.

But the 23-year-old felt he was having little impact on overseas aid issues and decided to move onto the vegan world.

Mr Delforce said he started finding vegan friends in Canberra in his teen years which saw him start a university-based organisation called, The Youth Vegetarian Association.

He said the new vegetarian movement, “didn’t really get anywhere but he “had a go”.

“It got my name out there, so the local activist scene knew who I was,” he said.

When he first became a vegetarian, it was motivated by an idea that animals probably don’t want to be eaten or killed and “it’s not in their interests”, he said.

“It was a fairly superficial reason I suppose, but then a few years later I started getting into the philosophy behind it and questioning exactly what was wrong with this system that exploits and kills billions of animals every year,” he said.

Mr Delforce said he then started watching video footage of animal farming practices and was moved to action by a well-known documentary called Earthlings about society’s treatment of animals.

Most of the documentary footage is based on US farming but a lot of it also applies to Australian practices, he said.

“I suppose I had this feeling, as every vegetarian does, that if people were to see this footage, if they were to see this treatment, they would not support it.”

'Humane slaughter' an oxymoron: Delforce

He believes livestock farming and production is “a great injustice” that’s only allowed to continue because people don’t know about it, due to the “concerted effort by these industries to hide it and to keep it secret and behind closed doors”.

Mr Delforce said trawling through hours of footage from abattoirs and piggeries or other facilities was “absolutely tough”.

“At times I feel hopeless, seeing the scale of this issue,” he said.

Mr Delforce said his ethical choice to be an animal rights activist and vegan was also based on environmental values and impacts on Third World nations.

He said people in those countries were all starving but “so much food is going into producing very small amounts of meat, so it’s an inefficient system”.

“I think it’s an injustice system that can be compared to the slave trade, where people thought they had every right to own slaves because African Americans didn’t have rights, and they were the property of their owners,” he said.

“I see that as being a very similar situation now where these animals are viewed as simply property, they don’t have rights (and) they’re not viewed as individuals with personalities with desires and everything else that they have.”

Mr Delforce considers the term “humane slaughter” to be an oxymoron.

He said if an animal doesn’t want to die and it’s being killed for personal benefit, whether that’s money or food or entertainment, “I don’t think that can be considered humane”.

“One method of slaughter might be more humane than another, it might involve less suffering, but even if the animal is completely stunned and they fall asleep and there’s no pain, I still don’t believe that’s okay,” he said.

“Regardless of what farmers try to say, those animals do want to live, they do have an interest in living and enjoying their experience in life.

“For us to say ‘no, that’s enough we’re going to kill you now because we want to make money from you’ I don’t see that as being morally acceptable.”

FarmOnline
Colin Bettles

Colin Bettles

is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first

READER COMMENTS

VivKay
13/07/2014 8:28:37 AM

The American style of "ag-gag" laws into Australia would be a recognition that animal cruelty is politically acceptable, and there would be no accountability inside the sheds, slaughterhouses and other livestock industries. Shutting our eyes to it won't make it go away, but give a licence to the abusers. There are higher laws of nature and ethics that transcend political laws. Animal cruelty is not acceptable, and what we do to animals will infuse into our society and permit violence and crime.
Cocky
13/07/2014 8:46:02 AM

They say you should never argue with an idiot because you will end up sounding like one yourself, this guy is that idiot. Most of the worlds most productive farm land was created by animal production (intensive, managed grazing), without it even more humans would be starving. Idealism doesn't create realism, this is a prime example.
John
13/07/2014 12:28:07 PM

That philosophy Delforce got into happens to be Utilitarianism. It is espoused by Australian Philosopher Peter Singer, who just happens to be the so called 'father' of animal liberation. Singer's utilitarianism says, that as sentient beings, animals have rights similar to humans. To cut a long story short, the utilitarian vegans want all animal utilisation stopped and veganism for all. Utilitarianism is an extreme philosophy with extreme and irrational outcomes - treating people as humans is one. If you want to know how extreme Singer's philosophy is, Google 'Heavy Petting', a Singer essay..
Love the country
14/07/2014 8:44:36 AM

I really wish the activists would go overseas and stop the barbaric cruelty to women and children we hear about daily on radio and see nightly on TV. People getting tied up and shot and beaten to death is more than I have ever seen anywhere, yet I never hear the group stand up for human rights.there preference is beyond me. Regarding the cruel shearers , you have the vision, ban them for life from there livelyhood, give them a massive fine and get them out of the industry. If I see anything I regard as cruel in my shed, your gone instantly.no if's no but's.
Renee
14/07/2014 9:37:30 AM

Colin, thank you for this great article and for allowing Mr Delforce to give us some insight into this issue. I think he is an amazing man for being able to watch hours and hours of horrendous footage. I wonder, if others were forced to do the same would their 'tunnel visioned' minds change?
FarmerBrown
14/07/2014 9:37:46 AM

What about the cruelty to domestic animals. It appears that the real aim of Mr Delforce is to get his name out there. How pathetic if he truly cared he would do it but not for the glory. What about those of us who spend untold hours rearing orphans and caring for the sick. No mention of that. The people who shot the video footage of the abuse in shearing sheds should be prosecuted, as accessories after the fact for not reporting it immediately. This behaviour is not tolerated. The people in the videos will find it very hard to work-in the industry anywher. They will be named and shamed.
VeganBrown
14/07/2014 12:43:50 PM

Without that vision FarmerBrown their cruel activity would have gone undetected, the industry would have continued to employ them and they would not have been named and shamed. This is why any form of AgGag is a step back into the dark ages. Without vision like this coming out the industry can not be held accountable.
Balance?
14/07/2014 3:58:24 PM

Mr Bettles, my question to you is what are you trying to prove? Two articles in a few days on the same bloke trying make himself more popular. Why do you give time and effort to this guy who has a few more things in life to learn? Where is the other side of the story? Or do we just get to hear more from this opinionated kid who hasn't yet learnt that something must die to feed us, either mice in a wheat field or beef from a grassy field.
PAYG
15/07/2014 12:57:46 PM

VeganBrown - your name suggests that the purpose of any animal cruelty, perceived or otherwise, is to further a means to your ideological ends, wherein, you and your ‘vegan’ mates use emotional misdirection to disguise your political agenda which is to have banned the consumption of all meat – white and red. Come on mate, step out from behind the disguise and ante up to the social licence that you believe that you have that would force others to accept your life choices above their own.
Inelda Lovi
9/02/2016 6:28:29 AM

Animals are the helpless victims of greed, corruption, ignorance, selfishness and savage cruelty.~IL ...The way in which Australia treat animals says a lot about who they are as a people and as a nation."The love of money is the root of all evil."
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