Farmer subjected to 'frightening' online abuse by vegan campaigners
'I have nothing to hide and have no shame in my job. I have great respect for anyone to make a choice' - dairy farmer Peter Hynes
One of Ireland's top farmers has been subjected to online abuse by vegan activists, with some calling him a rapist and a Nazi.
Dairy farmer Peter Hynes, who farms with his wife Paula and young family, was crowned the Zurich/Farming Independent 2017 Farmer of the Year last May.
His online following has grown since the win, but Peter said the online abuse has increased with the followers.
In recent days he's been called a rapist for using Artificial Insemination (AI) on his farm and a Nazi.
"I've been accused of being a rapist and a Nazi and stabbing animals in the neck," he told Independent.ie.
"I was told we should take our children to a slaughter house to show them their pet calves being slaughtered and stabbed in the neck.
"As farmers we have great respect for our animals and our children live on a working dairy farm. We post pictures of the children enjoying life with the animals on the farm.
"But, the abuse that I've got since last May from the vegan activists quite frightening.
"We artificially inseminate the herd, it's the most efficient way to get a cow in calf and its a lot kinder on the cow. I'm being called a rapist because of that. I find it disgusting. Rape is a crime that is punishable and unfortunately an awful lot of women have suffered and it's not right that that term is used."
Peter and Paula have used social media to showcase their working farm, including the Twitter campaign Febudairy - to promote dairy farming during the month of February.
As part of that Peter has posted live videos on his Twitter account from the farm, including showing a cow having a calf. However, he says, the negative online reaction from some vegan activists has led him to block hundreds of abusive posts.
Last week, he said, he blocked about 30 lobby groups that constantly bombard him with stuff online.
Speaking about the video he posted of a cow calving, he said he and his family have been targeted by animal activists, trying to promote vegan as a way of ife. "I have no problem with vegans. I'm a dairy farmer and am very proud of it. But it got to the stage where I wanted to tell my story as a farmer, through Febudairy.
"I posted a cow giving birth live on Twitter, so everyone could see what happens. It was a very nice easy calving and I wanted to show people how little stress the animal is under and how she acquaints herself with her calf.
"I have nothing to hide and have no shame in my job. I have great respect for anyone to make a choice."
In recent days, he has posted videos every day on how he manages the dairy herd and "to tell the real story and show people that there is misleading information out there.
"Those billboards are far from the truth on a dairy farm, the cows are allowed to spend time with their calves. We feed the calf as well as it must get colostrum and we can't guarantee it gets the amount of colostrum it needs."
Vegan activist Sandra Higgins, who spearheaded the Go Vegan billboard campaign, told Cork 96fm that she wanted to give the public facts around the use of animals as meat and that there is an alternative.
"He's presenting himself a victim of animal rights campaigners, but the victims are animals - we don't need to kill any of them, we don't need to use them.
When asked if it was fair that he was called a rapist, she said told Cork 96fm that "people become extremely irate at what we do to animals...I don't call farmers rapists. Animal rights activists object to other animals being used."
The process of AI is unacceptable to animal rights activists, she said, and said that the question of whether it is fair to call Peter a rapist for using AI on his farm was "irrelevant".
"A 100pc plant based diet is far more environmentally friendly and economically better - we need farmers, we respect farmers, but not to farm other animals."
She eventually admitted that; "I don't think it's helpful to call you (Peter) a rapist or a Nazi", but said that all slaughter is violent and unjust and that she too is subjected to online abuse.
"I was emailed recently 'St Sandra of the f*cking animals'."
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