Farmers are suffering from ongoing mental anguish and fear as a result of the actions of animal activists, an inquiry has been told.
That was the overwhelming theme expressed by farmers at the final hearing of the parliamentary inquiry into the impact of animal rights activism on Victorian agriculture in Wangaratta on Tuesday.
The ongoing "mental anguish" felt by Northern Victoria farmers is clear with many calling for tougher penalties for activists who trespass on farms.
Northern Victoria pig farmer Tim Kingma spoke about how he "had to talk down" a mate from suicide just days after animal activist website Aussie Farms went live.
Former North East MP and family farmer Bill Baxter spoke about the "ongoing fear" his nephew's wife and children feel living on their family farm.
But there was one speaker who didn't agree with everything being said and made "sweeping comments" about the state of animal welfare in the state.
Euroa farmer and animal welfare advocate Nicola Fanning said she has seen "multiple incidences" of large scale farms with starving cattle.
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When questioned by the committee whether she thinks farmers "deliberately starve their animals" she couldn't confirm or deny.
"I am not saying they deliberately starve them but they deliberately don't feed them to not spend money," she said. "I think farmers have become fearful of activists largely because of media and scare mongering."
Mr Baxter said in the 491 submissions to the inquiry, there were a number from anonymous sources and he urged the committee not to place much weight on them.
"There was one submission, number 482, which makes some defamatory statements about farmers and farm activities," he said.
"They are calling for the farming of animals to stop. That would deprive millions of people around the world their main source of protein, what sort of charity would want to deprive people of that?
"My family have raised concerns with me that they will wake up in the middle of the night to people on the property."
Mr Kingma told the committee the threat of activists trespassing on family farms is "very real" and farmers are genuinely scared for their animals and families.
"A local pig farmer wanted to take his own life the weekend after his property was named on the Aussie Farms map," he said.
"Luckily we had support for him and he is still a pig producer.
"But that mental anguish is there every day and it is not if, but when for us."
The inquiry report is due to be released on February 1.