18 June 2019

Animal rights activists have released secretly-recorded footage of disturbing cruelty to chickens at a Bridgewater Poultry farm. This is no fly-by-night operation. This is a farm owned by pillars of the farming industry: “Bridgewater Poultry is owned by a consortium of farmers, including Victorian Farmers Federation Egg Group president Tony Nesci, who had seen the footage. Mr Nesci said he was not responsible for the workers’ treatment of the animals because they were contractors. … Stop trying to put the blame on us, they were responsible in their actions.” So in this case he wants the responsibility pushed down to the bottom rung — but when the RSPCA contacted farmers to raise concerns, Nesci wanted them to deal with the national body instead. This is the main benefit of outsourcing arrangements: everybody can deny responsibility for systemic problems by pointing their finger at someone else. And Nesci trots out the other standard excuse: “We in the egg industry are at the mercy of only a handful for people who are prepared to do this job. We were fortunate to find somebody who would do the job.” What this always — always — means is they are not prepared to offer pay and working conditions to make the job attractive.

(Update — Nesci stood down as NFF Egg Group President.)