The Ontario government says they have listened to farmers’ concerns, and have introduced a new bill into the legislature.

The government says that if the bill passes, it will better protect farmers, their animals, livestock transporters and the province’s food supply from on-farm trespassers. The proposed legislation would require explicit prior consent to access an animal protection zone on a farm or food processing facility.

“We have heard concerns from farmers, farm organizations, processors, livestock transporters and municipalities in Nipissing about trespassing and their worry about the safety of farm families, employees and farm animals,” said MPP Vic Fedeli. “Our government is taking action to help protect them and protect our agriculture sector.”

The proposed bill would if passed, act as a deterrent to trespassers by:

  • Increasing fines up to $15,000 for a first offence and $25,000 for subsequent offences, compared to a maximum of $10,000 under the Trespass to Property Act
  • Allowing the court to consider aggravating factors when determining the appropriate fine
  • Allowing the court to issue a Restitution Order requiring the trespasser to pay restitution for damages caused during the trespass
  • Increasing protection for farmers, owners, occupiers or drivers against civil liability from people who were hurt while trespassing or contravening the act, provided there was no intent to do harm to or reckless disregard for the trespasser

The bill would also give exemptions to allow for municipal by-law officers, police and persons appointed under provincial animal protection and other legislation to access the property.

It would address the safety risks of people interfering with livestock in transport by prohibiting stopping, hindering, obstructing or interfering with a motor vehicle that is transporting farm animals. It would prohibit interacting with farm animals being transported by a motor vehicle without explicit prior consent.