Close to 30 local livestock farmers and transportation owners met with Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman (right) and Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell to discuss Bill 156, Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2019 at the Cornwall Township Lions Club on Feb. 3. Vogel photo

BONVILLE – The provincial Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ernie Hardeman, and Jim McDonell, MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, met with local livestock farmers and transportation owners to discuss Bill 156 in Bonville on Jan. 3. If passed, the bill will protect farmers, agri-businesses, agri-food sector workers, farm animals and Ontario’s food supply against the risks of on-farm trespass and interference with livestock transport.

“We have received a lot of support from across the province for our proposed legislation to improve protection against trespass,” said Minister Hardeman. “Our hard-working farmers, their families, employees and farm animals face unique risks and challenges associated with trespass onto a farm or into a food processing facility. We take their safety very seriously and this bill addresses those risks.”

Individuals and companies involved in agriculture and agri-business were encouraged to write letters to show their support for this initiative.

“Our government has zero tolerance to animal abuse. This bill, together with the PAWS Act, will have some of the strongest legislation in Canada; we can protect the welfare of farm animals, while at the same time protecting and improving the working conditions for the agri-food sector, and ensuring Ontario farmers feel safe in their own homes. That is what this proposed bill does,” stated Hardeman.

Farmers told Minister Hardeman this bill will help them feel safer, for themselves, their employees and their livestock. Minister Hardeman thanked the farmers for their support.

“If passed, our proposed bill would not interfere with the right of people to participate in legal protests,” said Minister Hardeman. Hardeman and McDonell noted that abuse and neglect of animals will not be tolerated, but these practices should not be confused with animal husbandry and normal farm practices.

“Cattle in the field will stand together as they enjoy companionship,” McDonell stated. “It is not abuse. It is their nature to do that.”

Close to 30 local livestock farmers and transportation owners attended the roundtable discussion at the Cornwall Township Lions Club, hosted by McDonell.

Minister Hardeman hopes to have this bill pass third reading before the summer break in June. Farmers feeling unsafe on their properties and suffering from mental health stress due to the threat of trespass was the driving force behind the proposed bill.

Many agricultural organizations have expressed support for the proposed legislation.