In this file:
· Ag minister meets with farmers over trespass bill
· Activists challenge animal welfare
Ag minister meets with farmers over trespass bill
Michelle Ruby, Brantford Expositor (Canada)
February 6, 2020
Justin Kroesbergen is a third-generation hog farmer in St. George who says he’s looking for a little more safety in his workplace.
He was among a group of local farmers gathered for a sit-down conversation at the Brantford tourism centre on Thursday with Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural affairs, about Bill 156: Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act.
Hardeman has been travelling around the province touting the bill he introduced last month, which is now in its second reading.
The proposed legislation would protect farmers and agricultural workers from animal rights activists, who trespass or impede their business.
Kroesbergen said there has been no trespassing on his family’s farm but there is always concern.
“Every car that drives by you take a double look,” he said. “It has definitely become more of an issue in the last few years. This is a fantastic bill. It will make us feel safer.”
Hardeman said he drafted the bill after talking to farmers, including those in Brant County, about their experiences.
“I’ve heard firsthand about the concerns our farmers have faced with the increased risk and dangers of on-farm trespass,” said Hardeman. “Everyone in the province has the right to a safe workplace. This is especially true for farmers whose homes and work are often the same place.
“At the same time, people have the right to participate in legal protests but that right doesn’t include trespassing on farms and agricultural businesses or interfering with livestock in transport.”
If passed, the bill would increase fines to as much as $25,000 for anyone caught trespassing on farmland and at food processing plants, and introduce new measures against interfering with animal transportation.
The law also would allow the courts to award restitution for damage that farmers and food processors may suffer, and make it illegal to gain access to a farm under “false pretenses” — effectively making undercover filming an offence.
“It’s no secret some of the greatest challenges are focused on pork producers,” John de Bruyn, board vice-chair for Ontario Pork and a pork farmer in Oxford County, said after Thursday’s meeting.
De Bruyn said people can show up at farms unannounced and impede the delivery of pigs to processing plants.
“It risks the safety of animals and the food they represent and the safety of drivers.”
Brantford-Brant MPP Will Bouma arranged Thursday’s round-table discussion. Agriculture is the single biggest industry in Brant.
Bouma said people who enter a farm or processing facility without authorization are unlikely to be aware of the safety protocols and could unknowingly contract and spread diseases between humans and animals.
Animal rights activists are protesting the proposed legislation, fearing it will halt activism and stop people from seeing animal suffering.
Activists opposed to Bill 156 walked the streets in Brantford carrying placards in the spring of 2018.
In a media release Thursday, Animal Justice...
Activists challenge animal welfare
Animals raised for human consumption are the focus of protest actions by animal activists
By Brian Wells, Calgary Journal (Canada)
It was a sunny day when around 90 protesters from across Western Canada converged on the Jumbo Valley Hutterite farm just north of Fort McLeod.
According to news and police reports, the protesters arrived at 7:15 am on that Labour Day weekend morning to express their concern about the alleged “inhumane treatment” of the 4,000 birds they said were being kept at the farm.
The protesters lined the highway outside the property and about 30 of them allegedly broke into one of its bio-secure barns and occupied it. For their part, the farm’s Hutterite owners said they had nothing to hide.
Once the RCMP arrived, the protesters were given a tour of the barns. And they left around noon with five turkeys they had purchased to be given to an animal sanctuary. Despite the peaceful resolution of the protest, the incident has underscored an emerging conflict between farmers and animal rights protesters, who believe existing systems for reporting animal welfare issues are insufficient.
That’s why they claim protests such as the one at Jumbo Valley are justified, with the goal to cease all animal production. But, in doing so, they are also highlighting how much space exists between those who stand up for producers and animal welfare, and those fighting for animal rights.
Right now, one important means of reporting those welfare issues is Alberta Farm Animal Care. It was started by producers in 1993 with the intent of promoting responsible livestock care amongst those who raise animals for consumption. AFAC provides information to the public and producers about animal welfare and has an “ALERT” call-in line where the public can report animal abuse.
“Anybody can call AFAC if you have any questions about livestock welfare, whether you have livestock, or you don’t have livestock,” says the groups spokesperson Kristen Lepp.
Generally, the calls AFAC receives are from citizens concerned about the availability of food and shelter for farm animals seen by passer-bys. For example, phone calls from those worried about cows having snow on their backs during the winter are usually answered with information about how the cold doesn’t necessarily pose a risk to the animals’ well being.
However, AFAC will receive more serious calls which leads to them dispatch one of their province-wide volunteers, normally a producer or veterinarian. Lepp says that AFAC and its volunteers normally work with owners when they do find concerns with an animal’s wellbeing.
“AFAC tries to work as a proactive organization. So we’re there to help before things get worse,” says Lepp.
However, there are instances when the welfare of farm animals is at greater risk...