Randal and Juanita Breen of Echo Valley Farm were anxious heading into last weekend.
Randal and Juanita Breen of Echo Valley Farm were anxious heading into last weekend. Contributed

Protester threat leaves farmers 'at the end of their tether'

IT WAS a restless Friday night for Juanita and Randal Breen as they feared their livestock at Echo Valley Farm was under serious threat.

About noon on Friday a warning was sent out from the farmer advocate group the Green Shirts Movement to producers of the Southern Downs about the possibility of a protest event.

Using spies embedded within the social media circles of known activists, the group caught wind of a plan to take action on a poultry farm in the area.

After making sure the police were aware of the threat, the Green Shirts posted the warning to their Facebook page.

With only her husband at the farm, Mrs Breen knew she could not do much if they were targeted by activists.

"It is a challenge we face that we don't have the answer for," she said.

"The stress of the drought is bad enough without another layer of stress of being worried someone is going to impact your animal's safety."

While farmers have been asked to take measures to protect their property such as locking gates and installing biosecurity signs, Mrs Breen said these would damage her farmgate business.

"The signs aren't very welcoming for customers," she said.

With limited options for defending their property, The Breens decided they would try to engage with protesters about their animal welfare measures if they did show up.

"If that hadn't worked and they started taking animals, we would have said 'if you take one you take them all," Mrs Breen said.

"I would've liked to have seen them try to fit 3000 chickens into a Ford Festiva."

Green Shirts Movement co-ordinator Martin Bella said two years of constant demonstrations paired with the drought has left farmers on the end of their tether.

"It is usually a different protester breaking into these properties but the target is always the same," he said.

"Farmers are on-edge, it has impacted a lot of them mentally."