Op-Ed: Protecting the agri-food value chain from farm-to-table

by Drew Spoelstra

Govt Member, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

ONTARIO — Ontario farms are locations of enterprise, the place animals are raised, protected and sustainable meals is produced, and the place a residing is made. However they’re additionally houses, the place households are raised, and kids play. Ontario’s agriculture business is experiencing elevated incidents of trespass, with activists illegally coming into property, barns and buildings, breaching biosecurity protocols, and inflicting important disruptions to the complete agri-food sector. As soon as lawful protests have escalated to barn break-ins, theft of animals, harassment and threats, and large-scale demonstrations which transcend peaceable protest. These actions put the complete meals system in danger. With out a wholesome and sustainable worth chain from farm to desk, Ontario’s livestock and poultry sector can’t survive, thrive, prosper or revenue.

People are entitled to their beliefs and have the proper to protest. Nevertheless, protests ought to by no means break the regulation, intrude with authorized companies, or endanger the security of individuals or animals. In latest months, animal activism has escalated past peaceable protest. The rise in less-than-peaceful protests are trigger for concern, as they not solely threaten the non-public security and psychological well-being of farmers, their households, workers, and the animals, it threatens the integrity of Ontario’s whole agri-food system.

Animal rights activism within the agriculture business poses important challenges down the complete worth chain, together with processing amenities, their employees, and livestock transporters. There’s a actual concern round processing vegetation, the place animal rights activists cease livestock vehicles, and create questions of safety for all events concerned. Transport trailers are unable to rapidly cease if somebody immediately blocks the roadway, and creates main security considerations to the drivers, the animals, and the protestors. Activists enter the car’s blind spots once they come as much as the trailer and intrude with the animals, creating one other security problem as the motive force can’t at all times see once they begin driving once more. Drivers face on-going abuse, together with harassment, threats, and gadgets being thrown on the car and trailer. Not solely do they have an effect on the psychological well being of the transport driver, these actions may cause important stress and hurt to the animals on the trailer.

Lack of convictions and present fines inside the judicial system aren’t performing as a deterrent. The brand new Safety from Trespass and Defending Meals Security Act, 2020 goals to do exactly that. The brand new laws provides farmers, livestock transporters and processing vegetation new protections, and offers the judicial system new instruments to handle the acute actions by activists aiming to finish animal agriculture. The Act creates “animal safety zones”, which incorporates barns, livestock automobiles and processing amenities, and makes it unlawful to enter barns or intrude with livestock transport with out consent. The inclusion of designated animal safety zones will assist to eradicate and cut back the chance of misery for cattle and exposing livestock to illness and stress, in addition to introducing contaminates to the meals provide. Trespass safety is enhanced, with important penalties for violations as much as $15,000 for a primary offence, and as much as $25,000 for subsequent offences. Trespassers are additionally financially chargeable for damages on account of their actions.

Feedback and statements from these opposing the brand new act declare that it stifles free speech, impedes one’s proper to protest and prevents exposing the abuse of cattle. Issues across the problem of animal abuse, and the power and obligation to report such actions are entrenched inside the Provincial Animal Welfare Companies (PAWS) Act2019, which got here into impact January 1, 2020. Ontario farmers firmly imagine in and advocate for the humane remedy of all animals, together with livestock and poultry, and don’t stand for animal abuse or neglect. The Safety from Trespass and Defending Meals Security Act, 2020 acts as a complement to the PAWS Act, and collectively, these items of laws guarantee the best requirements of animal care, shield folks, animals, and the province’s meals provide, whereas respecting lawful and peaceable protests. The new laws does a commendable job at conducting the wants of the agri-food sector to maintain the farm and meals provide protected throughout the province, and offers the mandatory safety of Ontario farms, households, workers, their animals and the security of the complete meals system.

Farmers are an integral a part of the meals worth chain. We stand firmly with our companions within the transportation and processing industries to take care of a protected and sustainable meals system for all Ontarians.

Drew Spoelstra is an Govt Member on the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) Board of Administrators. He’s the Zone 5 Director representing the pursuits and priorities of OFA members within the area of Halton, Hamilton-Wentworth and Niagara.

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