The Victorian Government is set to introduce new animal welfare laws in 2024 that will have potentially wide-ranging impacts on the agriculture industry.
We expect the government will release an exposure draft of the legislation in December prior to it being put to the Victorian Parliament sometime in 2024. Should parliament agree to new laws, it is likely to take a couple of years for these laws to be implemented and enforced.
The VFF is currently engaged in confidential briefings with the government to understand the intention behind proposed changes. The VFF is the only organisation representing farmers and the agricultural supply chain as part of these discussions.
In October 2022, as the Victorian Government sought feedback on its proposed plan for Victoria’s new animal care and protection laws, the VFF articulated several key concerns at that time, and we continue to advocate these positions:,
- Right to Farm: VFF seeks assurances that the new Act will uphold farmers’ rights, urging the retention of current POCTA provisions.
- Activity Distinction: VFF emphasises the difference between recreational and commercial activities.
- Animal Sentience: VFF acknowledges that animals are sentient but insists on science-backed legislation and clarifies that this recognition doesn’t equate to granting animals human-like legal rights or emotions.
- Standards of Care: VFF points out farmers’ voluntary contributions to animal welfare, insisting the new Act should acknowledge this.
- Controlled Procedures: VFF opposes ‘veterinarian-only procedures’, advocating for the role of skilled non-vet practitioners and the continuation of essential husbandry practices.
- Scientific Procedures: VFF wants the new Act to maintain current practices and demands clarity, especially between husbandry practices and scientific procedures.
- Ministerial Discretion: The proposed Expert Advisory Committee (EAC) concerns VFF, emphasising the importance of including agricultural representatives within the EAC.
- Compliance and Enforcement: VFF supports the introduction of trained Authorised Officers but stresses the importance of biosecurity protocols and clear entry guidelines.
- Compliance Inspection Scheme: VFF believes the Minister should be well-informed on risks before implementing any scheme.
- Seizing of Animals: While acknowledging the occasional necessity, VFF insists on evaluating each seizure situation individually.
The VFF will keep members informed of our progress in consulting with the government when and where we are able to, respecting the current confidentiality arrangements.
VFF members are directly being represented on these issues through the VFF Commodity Policy Councils and the VFF Farming Systems Committee.