Safety First: Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act

December 6, 2019 | Brenda Dyack

Safety First: Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act

We can all give a collective sigh of relief now that Minister Hardeman has introduced Bill 156, Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2019. Several farming and commodity organizations, including CFFO, were on hand in the Ontario Legislature on December 2 to show support for the proposed legislation.

Minister Hardeman tabled the bill with the words we were hoping to hear:

"The bill is intended to protect farm animals, the food supply, farmers and others from risks that are created when trespassers enter places where farm animals are kept or when persons engage in unauthorized interactions with farm animals. The risks include the risk of exposing farm animals to disease and stress, as well as the risk of introducing contaminants into the food supply." (Hansard Transcript 2019-Dec-02, Legislative Assembly of Ontario)

CFFO is pleased to voice our support for this legislation. We have been working with other farm organizations to tell government about the increased threat of on-farm trespassing and its associated risks.

CFFO President Clarence Nywening was quoted in OMAFRA’s news release about the proposed bill, explaining the concerns of our members:

"Farmers are worried about potential threats to their families, farm animals and businesses. They’re concerned current trespass legislation is not enough to protect them from unwanted visitors, who risk hurting both their livestock and farm property. We urge the Ontario government to improve protection for our farmers from the risk of illegal activism."

Livestock industry protections and consumer food safety protections must go hand in hand with animal welfare protections—another key concern for CFFO right now. Over the past number of months, CFFO has supported work toward developing a credible, transparent, and effective animal protection system across the province. The recently proposed Bill 136, Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Act, 2019 is an important step in achieving this goal. We believe that this act can be well aligned with the goals of ensuring security from trespass and protection of food safety, as established in Bill 156.

The introduction of Bill 156 is an important step. In the coming weeks, CFFO will be looking closely at the proposed legislation, examining how well these laws will function on farms and offering recommendations to government as the Bill follows its course through the legislature. As always, CFFO is eager to hear from members, so please contact us if you have concerns about this bill.

For the present, we look forward to enforceable laws that offer necessary protections for farmers, their families and their livestock facilities.

Brenda Dyack is Executive Director for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXS Chatham, and CKNX Wingham.