MPs give final approval to bill to toughen penalties for farm trespassing

  • National Newswatch

Senate will now have to consider the bill.Ottawa—A bill to keep trespassers out of livestock farms has passed final reading in the Commons and now goes to the Senate for approval. Sponsored by Conservative ag critic John Barlow, the bill received strong support from the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois.If it becomes law, it would be an offence for people to enter a livestock farm without a lawful reason and fines for doing so would be doubled from what now are provided under anti-trespass laws.Barlow said it was vital to deter people from illegally entering farms because of the risk of spreading disease among the animals.In the final debate on the bill in late November, Barlow said he received support from across the agriculture sector. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture said the bill “would provide targeted intervention against the on-farm food safety and biosecurity risk by limiting the access of unauthorized entrants to animals and farms. The proposed amendments to the Health of Animals Act offer an avenue to further strengthen our overall food system by enhancing the measures in place to protect the health of farm animals across our country.”At the same, Barlow's bill struck a balance between producers' safety and protection and the right to lawful and peaceful protest, CFA said. “Our members' operations often host visitors to demonstrate how the land is managed or their animals are cared for, but there is a key distinction between those who willingly follow prescribed, strict biosecurity and sanitation practices and those who willfully endanger animal health, welfare, and food safety.”Passing the bill shows that Canadian agriculture and food security matters, Barlow said. It also shows MPs “recognize the unwavering dedication our farmers and farm families have for the well-being of the animals in their care.”It also important to make urban Canadians aware “what Canadian agriculture is, how we do it, why we do it and the very strict regulations and protocols in biosecurity we must follow to ensure the security of our food supply.”