On December 2, Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, plans to introduce legislation entitled, Security From Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2019 in the Ontario legislature. The proposed legislation, if passed, will better protect farmers, their animals, livestock transporters and the province's food supply. It would also require explicit prior consent to access an animal protection zone on a farm or food processing facility.
"We've heard from farmers who no longer feel safe in their homes, who have expressed concerns with increasing on-farm trespassing and the safety of their families, employees and livestock," said Hardeman. "Today we are taking action to strengthen protections for agricultural workers and the integrity of our food system."
The proposed legislation would address the unique risks and challenges associated with trespass onto a farm or into a food processing facility. These include:
- The risks trespassers pose to the safety of farmers, their families and employees;
- Exposing farm animals to stress and disease; and
- Introducing contaminants into our food supply.
Additionally, the proposed act would allow the courts to increase the cost of trespassing by:
- Escalating 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;
- Prescribing aggravating factors that would allow the court to consider factors that might justify an increased fine;
- Allowing the court to order restitution for damage in prescribed circumstances which could include damage to a farmer's livestock or from theft;
- Increasing protection for farmers against civil liability from people who were hurt while trespassing or contravening the act.
Under the proposed legislation, consent would be invalid if it was obtained under duress or false pretenses.
Source: OMAFRA December 2, 2019 news release