How agriculture industry audits are failing Australian animals

Who's looking out for animals inside Australian factory farms and abattoirs?

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LAST UPDATED: 26 February 2016

"Pace Farm Eggs are sourced from the most modern farms, from the healthiest hens and treated with the greatest care."Pace Farm website

So what did the inside of a Pace cage egg facility in Corowa NSW look like in May 2014?


Row upon row of wire cages, crammed with balding hens ... Huge mounds of manure piling up in the pit below — in which several hens were scraping out an existence.

Battery hen cruelty is currently still legal in Australia but the appalling conditions these birds are being forced to endure constitute multiple violations of regulations.

Evidence supplied to Animals Australia by investigators underpinned our second complaint in fourteen months to authorities about overcrowding and other regulation breaches at this cage egg facility.

Despite fines that resulted from the first complaint, fresh evidence showed conditions had deteriorated, exposing yet again an alarming failure of the industry's audit system.

Out of sight ...

Again and again over the past several years, undercover investigations have revealed shocking abuse of Australian animals going unaddressed — and likely unnoticed — by authorities, including:



Systemic failures

How can this abuse happen? Most Australians would reasonably expect that animals raised for food in our country would be protected from cruelty — and that someone independent is keeping an eye on their welfare.

Disturbingly, however, the reality is that minimal industry standards deliberately exclude farmed animals from many cruelty laws. And government inspection programs — while varying from state to state — leave factory farms and abattoirs with very little oversight.

VIC TAS NSW SA WA QLD NT
Is every factory farm audited by independent inspectors at least once a year? NO NO NO NO NO NO N/A
Is there any routine government inspection program of factory farms? NO YES1 NO2 NO3 YES4 YES5 N/A
Are any factory farm routine audit programs that are carried out done without warning? N/A YES NO6 NO NO7 NO N/A
Are abattoirs regularly audited for animal welfare by independent inspectors? YES YES8 YES9 NO UNCLEAR YES YES
Do all animals raised and killed receive independent oversight? NO NO NO NO NO NO NO

Click for table notes: »

What's more, as this Today Tonight story reveals, slaughterhouses and factory farms often have advance warning to prepare for government inspections:


Today Tonight airs undercover footage of SA abattoir workers being warned of an upcoming quarantine audit, while allegedly breaching regulations by smoking drugs. Watch the full story on the Today Tonight website.

Shining a light on cruelty

Cases like these and many others highlight the critical importance of independent investigators in protecting animals and informing the community of the real conditions behind closed doors in factory farms and abattoirs.

Worrying proposed new laws endorsed by some in the Australian agriculture industry would seriously endanger this public service by criminalising the documenting of animal abuse in agriculture. 'Ag-gag' laws (so-called because they try to 'gag' whistleblowers) have already gained a troubling hold in some US states.

Proponents of these ag-gag laws argue that authorities are best placed to act on cruelty. But history has shown that systems supposed to protect animals raised and killed for food in Australia are consistently failing to do so — and that our community would continue to be kept in the dark about this suffering, were it not for investigators bringing these stories to light.

Take action! If you're worried about the risk that ag-gag laws pose to animals in Australia then tell your state MP today.

Click to take action


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