Ontario announces new act to protect farms

Natali Trivuncic
Staff writer

On Dec. 4, Ernie Hardman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs announced the provinces Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act.

The legislation went into effect on Dec.5.

The purpose of the legislation is to prohibit trespassing on farms and other properties on which farm animals are located and to prohibit other interferences with farm animals. This is in place to eliminate the risk of exposing farm animals to disease and stress, as well as risking contaminating the food supply.

Kim Jo Bliss, manager of Emo Agricultural Farm, said the legislation is good news for farmers like herself, who have been needing protection.

“It was well needed protection for people that are doing a good job in taking care of their land and their cattle because they have to in order to stay in business,” Bliss said.

The legislation also serves to protect farmers, their families and those working in or on farms, animal processing facilities and prescribed premises and the safety of drivers of motor vehicles transporting farm animals.

Hardman said all Ontarians have a right to a safe workplace, especially when that workplace is also their home.

Along the list of actions that the legislation prohibits it also states that people cannot enter in or on an animal protection zone, interact with a farm animal, damage or remove any signs posted on a farm, interfere with a motor vehicle transporting farm animals and more, without the consent of the owner of the farm.

He adds that careful work was put into place to balance the rights of the farmers and their operations with the rights of people to participate in lawful protests and advocacy activities on public property. The act also includes protection for Aboriginal and treaty rights and the safety of First Nation hunters.

Hardman said the ministry of agriculture, food and rural affairs consulted widely on this act and received more than 850 comments from the public about the regulations required to operationalize the legislation. This feedback was then considered in the development of the final regulations.

Hardman said this legislation is important because there was not a clear definition before of what areas of the farm are protected, but with this new legislation the zones are more clearly defined.

Bliss, who said she has had trouble with people hunting on her property in the past, said this is important because of the safety risk it poses to her family and animals.

“When you live in a city, your yard is your yard and you don’t expect people to be going through your backyard. Though our yards may be bigger, it’s still ours,” Bliss said.