Province working to increase protections against on-farm trespass
Today, Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Lisa MacLeod, MPP for Nepean, met with local farmers to discuss the importance of protecting farmers, agri-businesses, agri-food sector workers, farm animals and Ontario’s food supply against the risks of on-farm trespass and interference with livestock transport trucks.
Hardeman discussed Bill 156, the proposed Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2019, which he introduced in the Ontario Legislature on December 2, 2019 and began Second Reading on December 10, 2019. If passed, it would provide added protections against the risks of on-farm trespass.
“No one should feel unsafe at home or work,” said Hardeman. “I’m pleased to have introduced legislation which, if passed, would help better protect our hard-working farmers, their families, employees and farm animals by addressing the unique risks and challenges associated with trespass onto a farm or into a food processing facility.”
“I have heard concerns from the few farmers left in urban Ottawa,” said MacLeod. “They work hard to protect and care for their animals, and they go to great lengths to keep them healthy. Our government’s efforts to strengthen protections and minimize risks to personal safety and animal health are the right thing to do for our farmers.”
The proposed legislation would strengthen trespass laws to deter trespassers on agri-food premises, establish new rules regarding interfering with the transportation of livestock, and take steps to improve protections from unauthorized entry into food processing facilities to better protect the province’s food supply. Trespassers may not realize how their actions could lead to the introduction of disease in the herd and give livestock undue stress.
“At all our consultations, meetings and roundtables, stakeholders have pointed to the fact that Ontario farmers have been facing trespass on farms that makes them feel unsafe on their own property,” said Hardeman. “The proposed changes would help protect the security of farmers, their families and Ontario’s food supply. These changes would not interfere with the right of people to participate in legal protests – but they do not have the right to trespass on private property.”
This meeting was one of several discussions held by Minister Hardeman to better understand industry concerns about on-farm trespassing and interference with food processing and farm animal transportation.
- The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Chicken Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Pork, the Ontario Livestock Transporters’ Alliance and Dairy Farmers of Ontario are among organizations who have expressed support for the proposed legislation.
- More than 60 municipalities have passed or supported council resolutions calling on the government to strengthen protections for farm families, employees and animals.
- In recent months, the Ontario government received more than 900 letters regarding trespassing on farms and agri-food premises and obstruction of livestock transport trucks.