Responding to on-farm activism.

1.Prepare

It’s not possible to entirely protect your farm from being the target for activists. Perhaps the best protection from activism is trying to limit the visibility of farm operation which may attract the attention of activists from public roads, such as calving sheds, calving pads, hospital paddocks, animals awaiting knackery collection and anywhere animals may be receiving veterinary care.

  • Limit unannounced visitors to your farm through clear Biosecurity signs at all entrances, requiring visitors to request approval before entry.

  • Write down protocols for yourself and staff if they encounter an intruder. This could include: local police numbers, if and how they should be approached, and what information they should record if they suspect an intruder (car description and plate numbers, description of individuals, where they were, if anything was taken or damaged).

  • Consult the dedicated NFF web page for advice on what steps you can take to limit the publication of your farm’s location - farmers.org.au/news/fighting-back-against-the-activist-farm-map/.

  • Think twice about having veterinarians performing treatments in areas highly visible to the public.

  If you do become aware of or suspect unauthorised access to your farm:

2.Communicate

  • Keep calm and approach the activists, asking them to leave the property.

  • If they are not willing to leave, make clear your intention to contact the local police, and follow through if required.

  • If possible, ask the group to identify the organisation they are affiliated with.

  • Ensure you communicate with staff and any farm visitors to let them know about the situation and give clear instructions as to what work can safely continue, or otherwise where they should gather.

  • Try to manage your response to avoid accusations of inappropriate aggression or criminal threat, including confronting the activists carrying anything which could be perceived as a weapon.

3.Secure the property

  • Secure all on-farm facilities possible - lock sheds and gates, limit access throughout the property as much as possible. 

  • If aspects of operations are open to public, for example retail or hospitality operations, consider the safety and reputational risks and decide whether there is a need to close.  If so, think about the need to communicate this on social media or through other channels to those who may be affected by your unexpected closure.

4.Police involvement

  • If there is a threat to life (or a crime is in progress), call 000 immediately.

  • Nuisance and/or threatening calls should be reported in person to a police station. These cannot be dealt with over the phone by PoliceLink. (PoliceLink can however, collect information about the event and add it to a database.)

  • A diary should be kept of nuisance calls including time, date, number and content of the call.

  • It is illegal to record a call without the knowledge of the other party to the call.

  • On-line threats can also be reported to the Australian Cybercrime On-Line Reporting Network (ACORN) htpps://www.acorn.gov.au

5.Prepare for media

  • The activity may attract local media attention, or discussions online through social media. If comments are posted directly to your business or family page, resist the urge to respond in the heat of the moment.

  • If comments are abusive, contain expletives, or directed to you or your family or staff you should hide and delete the post, and consider blocking the poster from your accounts.