A bill under consideration in Canada would make entering properties where farm animals are kept without lawful authority or excuse to enter an offense under the country’s Health of Animals Act.

John Barlow, Member of Parliament for Foothills and Conservative Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Agri-Food, introduced Bill C-205, An Act to amend the Health of Animals Act, stating that such unauthorized entries could result in the exposure of the animals to a disease or toxic substance.

“Protecting the biosecurity of animals and workers must be the priority when it comes to farms and food processing centers,” said Barlow. “In today’s global marketplace it is critical we protect the integrity of Canada’s supply chain and ensure our food remains safe to eat, prevent disease outbreaks, and ensure farmers and businesses do not lose significant income.”

The act currently provides for the control of diseases and toxic substances that may affect animals or may be transmitted by animals to persons. However, the obligations and prohibitions apply in respect of the owner of the animals. Currently, there is nothing which addresses trespassers. This legislation aims to change that situation.

“Recently, more and more individuals have been trespassing on farms and food processing centers”, said MP Barlow. “This has the potential to cause massive biosecurity issues for animals and the individuals who work with them.”

This bill will not, in any way. limit an individual’s right to peacefully protest on public property. However, it will increase the penalties for groups and organizations who encourage individuals to threaten the biosecurity of animals and workers.

Barlow added: “Protecting Canada’s food supply is critical – viruses like African swine fever pose a very real threat to Canadian agriculture. These biosecurity threats can decimate livestock herds and devastate our industry and economy. Strengthening biosecurity measures for trespassers is something farmers, ranchers, food processors, farm groups and commodity organizations all support. I am confident the liberal government will do the same.”

Reactions from industry shareholders

Barlow’s legislation has the support of many Canadian agricultural organizations.

Advertisement

Here are some of their comments:

Benoît Fontaine, chair, Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC): “Canada’s 2,877 chicken farmers take pride in raising safe food for Canadians. CFC’s Raised by a Canadian Farmer On Farm Food Safety Program enforces strict biosecurity measures on every farm across the country to limit the spread of disease. This proposed legislation will further strengthen the Health of Animals Act to ensure trespassers are prosecuted for their actions, while preventing the potential spread of disease.”

Roger Pelissero, chair, Egg Farmers of Canada: “Egg Farmers of Canada supports MP John Barlow’s bill to amend the Health of Animals Act. Canada’s more than 1,100 egg farmers follow comprehensive and rigorous food safety standards, which include strict biosecurity measures. 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.”  

Darren Ference, chair of Turkey Farmers of Canada: “The Turkey Farmers of Canada supports the private members’ bill put forward by Alberta MP John Barlow, to amend the Health of Animals Act. We feel this amendment has positive implications for protecting the health and welfare of animals on farm, and is supportive of Canadian farmers who work hard to care for the animals in their barns.”

Rick Bergman, Chair of Canadian Pork Council: “Animal health and well-being is a priority for pork producers. Intrusions on a pork farm cause a breach in the biosecurity protocols in place to protect the health of the animals and puts their care in jeopardy. Supportive measures such as Bill 20X to deter trespassing, acts of breaking and entering, acts of vandalism and intimidation are very well received by pork producers.” – Rick Bergman, Chair of Canadian Pork Council

Mary Robinson, president, Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA): “The CFA supports in principle, and encourages, MP John Barlow’s private members bill to support Canadian farmers, who have been negatively impacted by activism. We believe that the introduction of this bill is an important and necessary step in the right direction.”