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07-Feb-2020

Proposed bill protects local farmers by preventing risky trespass activities


livestock cows in a field with no trespass sign

Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Bill Walker, MPP for Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound, met with local farmers on February 7 to discuss Bill 156. If passed, the bill will protect 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.

“We have received a lot of support from across the province for our proposed legislation to improve protection against trespass,” said Minister Hardeman. “Our hard-working farmers, their families, employees and farm animals face unique risks and challenges associated with trespass onto a farm or into a food processing facility. We take their safety very seriously and this bill addresses those risks.”

Bill 156, the proposed Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2019, was introduced by Minister Hardeman in the Ontario Legislature on December 2, 2019 and began Second Reading on December 10, 2019.

The proposed bill strengthens protection for farmers by:

  • Increasing fines for the first offence to up to $15,000 and up to $25,000 for subsequent offences
  • Allowing the courts to order restitution in cases where a farmer has suffered damages to their livestock or from theft
  • Protecting farmers from civil claims by people who were hurt on the farm while they were trespassing

“Bill 156 is an incredibly important piece of legislation that will ensure that farmers in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound and across Ontario feel safe and secure on the farm and in their homes,” said MPP Walker. “I truly appreciate Agriculture Minister Hardeman taking the time to speak directly with farmers in our region to discuss this bill and how our government can continue to support our agricultural sector.”

“If passed, our proposed bill would not interfere with the right of people to participate in legal protests,” said Minister Hardeman. “Our government will always protect that right. However, these activities cannot include creating safety risks on farms or interfering with livestock in transport. I look forward to carrying forward the proposed legislation through its next steps when the Legislature returns later this month.”

Prior to the introduction of the proposed bill, Minister Hardeman held several meetings with farmers where they expressed the need for government action to deal with on-farm trespass. Farmers feeling unsafe on their properties and suffering from mental health stress due to the threat of trespass was the driving force behind the proposed bill.

The meeting also provided the Minister an opportunity to emphasize the government’s commitment to Rural Ontario and support of agriculture in the province.

 


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Updated March 12, 2020.

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