WARNING - GRAPHIC CONTENT Footage shown to Yahoo News Australia shows rodents swarming and dead, rotting animals inside a commercial piggery in NSW.
Rats scurry up the walls, run around the pigs and eat the bodies of the dead.
There are thousands of rat droppings littering the floor, some of them being eaten by a piglet.
The video shows a dead mother pig inside a steel birthing crate next to a pen of live piglets.
Her rotten, rat-eaten skin has decayed down to the skull.
Across the piggery, we see more rotten pig bodies, some have had their eyes eaten out, another has thick brown goop spilling out of its snout.
Outside there are open sacks filled with yellow and pink dead piglets, one is so rotten its ribcage is exposed.
Chay Neal from Animal Liberation Queensland told Yahoo News Australia that the vision, was delivered to him anonymously on a USB and that his organisation and their NSW counterparts intended to publish it on their websites.
“It looks like something out of a horror movie,” he said.
“The decomposing corpses left in the pens, it really is revolting.
“Most people would be shocked to think that this is where their pork comes from.”
Investigation into piggery conditions underway
The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) told Yahoo News Australia they have received a letter of complaint and video footage in relation to the matter and are acting on it today.
“The matter has been referred to DPI compliance team for review and investigation, and DPI compliance and biosecurity staff will visit the property today along with a veterinarian,” a spokesman said.
“DPI administers the POCTA Act and works closely with enforcement agencies.
“In NSW, three organisations are authorised to enforce the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (POCTA Act) - RSPCA NSW, Animal Welfare League NSW and NSW Police.
“DPI takes animal welfare seriously and encourage anyone with concerns to the welfare of animals in NSW to immediately contact one of the three NSW enforcement agencies.”
The statement came moments after Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst asked DPI director general Scott Hansen a question about the footage in budget estimates which was taken on notice.
Linda Stoner, from NSW Animal Liberation said she also sent the footage to RSPCA NSW and the NSW Environmental Protection Authority for them to review.
She alleges the footage was shot in Signium Piggery at Ellangowan, NSW.
An RSPCA NSW spokesperson confirmed that they received a letter and have reached out to Animal Liberation NSW for further details.
Robert Nakhla spoke briefly to Yahoo News Australia, on behalf of Signium Piggery, issuing a short statement.
“We have no rats in the piggery at all,” he said.
‘Makes the rest of the industry look terrible’
Yahoo News Australia has not shared the footage with Australian Pork Limited (APL) for legal reasons, so an industry body spokesperson talked generally about pig welfare.
“Australian Pork Limited strongly condemns the actions of any producers who do not comply with the legal and industry requirements of pork production,” an APL spokesperson said.
“Australian Pork Limited in not in a position to comment on this particular situation having not received the footage to review and supports an investigation by the appropriate authorities.”
NSW Farmers Pork Committee chair Ean Pollard told Yahoo News Australia he was unable to comment on the specifics of the footage, but said the pork industry has welfare and environmental guidelines that need to be followed.
“You’ll probably always find some rodents somewhere, most intensive animal industries are constantly working on rodent control,” he said.
“But, I can verify that the pork industry doesn’t condone poor practices because it makes the rest of the industry look terrible.”
‘Targeting’ animal activists
Undercover footage has resulted in investigations into animal cruelty, most recently a Department of Primary Industries investigation into an abattoir at Picton.
Lawyer Tara Ward told Yahoo News Australia the government is cracking down on people exposing animal cruelty instead of those responsible for it.
The co-founder of the Animal Defenders Office says so-called “agricultural gag” or “ag-gag” laws emerged in the US in response to rising community concern about animal welfare issues highlighted by undercover activist video.
“In Australia there are a new generation of ag-gag laws… that are trying to gag any exposure of animal agriculture or practices,” she said.
“Existing laws have been used to make it a crime basically to use a surveillance device - a camera, a phone or a listening device on private property without consent of the manager or the owner.”
“They have been in place for many years, but now new laws are being proposed that specifically target animal activists.”
NSW Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst issued a statement saying the NSW government is “pushing a political agenda to instil fear”.
“Today, once again, the community can see an example of exactly the type of footage the Government is trying to hide,” she said.
“We have seen countless videos from concerned whistleblowers horrified at the brutality and lax biosecurity practices they have witnessed behind closed doors of the animal agribusiness industry.
“This isn’t a one off.”
Activists branded as ‘vegan terrorists’
Federally, the government is pushing legislation that will make it illegal to incite raids against farmers, with jail terms for activists who publish the addresses of farms.
These new laws passed the Senate on Thursday, and will go back to the house of Representatives with amendments.
Industry insiders were not surprised, with federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese telling caucus on Tuesday to back the laws, saying the Labor Party does not represent “vegan terrorists”.
Aussie Farms executive director, Chris Delforce condemned Mr Albanese’s language.
“The use of the word ‘terrorist’ to describe peaceful, non-violent whistleblowers and protesters is absolutely disgusting.”
“Terrorism is a horrific, violent, murderous act; to throw it around as a political buzzword to excuse Labor’s growing merge with the Coalition and One Nation is vile.”
Mr Delforce highlighted the public’s need to know what occurs on farms, highlighting a case unrelated to the piggery in which baby goats were seen being slaughtered.
‘No significant areas of concern’
Following their inspection of the property the NSW Department of Primary Industries issued the following statement.
“This matter was referred to the DPI compliance team for investigation,” it read.
“As a result, an unannounced inspection was conducted by DPI and Local Land Services on Friday, 13 September.
“The inspection revealed no significant areas of concern.
“DPI is committed to safeguarding animal welfare and encourages anyone with concerns to contact RSPCA NSW, Animal Welfare League NSW or NSW Police.”
A spokesperson from RSPCA NSW has urged anyone with information about animal cruelty to contact them.
He said they take all allegations of animal cruelty seriously, and anyone with further details should contact them on 1300 CRUELTY.
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