Proposed Bill to Protect Ontario’s Farmers, Farm Animals and Food SupplyDecember 2, 2019
NORTH BAY – A proposed Bill introduced in the Ontario Legislature will, if passed, better protect farmers, their animals, livestock transporters and the province’s food supply from on-farm trespassers.
The proposed legislation would also require explicit prior consent to access an animal protection zone on a farm or food processing facility.
“We have heard concerns from farmers, farm organizations, processors, livestock transporters and municipalities in Nipissing about trespassing and their worry about the safety of farm families, employees and farm animals,” said MPP Vic Fedeli. “Our government is taking action to help protect them and protect our agriculture sector.”
Papineau-Cameron Township is among municipalities that have passed resolutions encouraging the government to ensure stronger enforcement of existing laws.
The proposed Bill would, if passed, act as a deterrent to trespassers by:
· Increasing fines of up to $15,000 for a first offence and $25,000 for subsequent offences, compared to a maximum of $10,000 under the Trespass to Property Act;
· Allowing the court to consider aggravating factors when determining the appropriate fine;
· Allowing the court to issue a Restitution Order requiring the trespasser to pay restitution for damages caused during the trespass;
· Increasing protection for farmers, owners, occupiers or drivers against civil liability from people who were hurt while trespassing or contravening the act, provided there was no intent to do harm to or reckless disregard for the trespasser.
The proposed Bill provides exemptions to allow access for municipal by-law officers, police and persons appointed under provincial animal protection and other legislation to access the property.
It would also address the safety risks of people interfering with livestock in transport by:
· Prohibiting stopping, hindering, obstructing or interfering with a motor vehicle that is transporting farm animals; and
· Prohibiting interacting with farm animals being transported by a motor vehicle without explicit prior consent.