Activists sent abusive messages to Chris Wilson’s farm business Facebook page, Streamvale Open Farm, based in County Down, Northern Ireland.
In a video appeal, Mr Wilson urged a group of vegans to stop sending him and his pregnant wife, Helen, abusive messages online.
He said: “I have been up since four o’clock this morning looking after our animals, caring for our sheep, and making sure our lambing is going OK.
“I was out early this morning delivering dairy products to vulnerable people, out on the road since half four and we will probably be working right through to 10 o’clock tonight.
“I’m not saying that because I think I’m doing anything special – there’s plenty of nurses and doctors doing far more than me.”
Mr Wilson explained that his wife, Helen, who runs the company’s Facebook page, was at home feeling “devastated” after coming under attack from vegans, who believe that what they are doing is wrong.
“I just don’t think it’s right,” said Mr Wilson. “She’s sitting there worried because of the comments people are saying, how cruel we are and how dare we be delivering dairy products.”
Mr Wilson described accusations of them “marking a sheep with paint, so we know if it’s a twin or a single is cruel, and how we are going to slaughter these lambs at Easter”, as “just unbelievable”.
He said: “I have no issue if you’re a vegan, at all. And plenty of people have different dietary requirements for different reasons.
“But that’s your choice. We are doing our best to survive ourselves through this and just to be slated online has just really p*ssed me off.”
He added: “I’m upset for my wife, who is feeling very anxious over the whole thing, and I don’t think it’s fair. If you’re a vegan, I have absolutely no issues with that, but don’t feel the need to come on and bombard us with messages. I’ll just leave it at that. Let us do what we do, and you do what you do.”
Streamvale Open Farm is a family farm that officially opened its doors to the public in 1989. Visitors can see cows being milked, and lambs, goats and rabbits being fed throughout the day. The farm is currently temporarily closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic. The family has been farming the land for more than 100 years and it is still a working dairy farm.
Seven tips to deal with vegan activists
The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says farmers are reporting they are increasingly coming under attack on farms and it has issued the following advice to members.
If you do come across extremists on your farm or have suspicions they may have been on farm:
- Be aware they may be live streaming the encounter.
- Calmly and politely ask them to leave.
- Call the police and alert them to their presence or log the incident if they have left.
- Inform the UFU, your processor, and quality assurance scheme (they may wish to organise a spot visit of the site).
- Gather your own photo or video evidence of faces, car registrations, and any damage caused (this will be useful if you wish to attempt to prosecute them and for industry intelligence).
- Check the site and other sites for hidden cameras.
- Consider suspending social media accounts if picked up by the press.