LONDON - Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs hosted a roundtable with rural municipal leaders along with provincial livestock transporters to discuss the risks and dangers of interference with animal transportation as well as farmer and food safety risks surrounding on-farm trespass to farmers and farm businesses.
Minister Hardeman was joined by Randy Pettapiece, MPP for Perth-Wellington and Parliamentary Assistant, to address concerns raised by farmers, food processors and animal transportation companies following a number of incidences of trespassing.
Trespassing on farms and other agri-food premises poses risks to the safety of farmers, employees, their families, animal welfare and public health. Trespassers can unknowingly expose animals to stress and disease - and compromise our food safety by introducing contaminants in the food supply system.
"Farmers feed people, and we all know supporting their efforts to produce high quality, safe foods is important for Ontario. That's why we need to protect farmers, agri-food businesses, farm animals, and our food supply," said Hardeman. "I want to thank everyone who joined me today to talk about the importance of further safeguarding Ontario's farmers and agriculture industry."
"Ontario consumers also have the right to expect their government is ensuring our food supply is safe, including protecting it from unlawful interference and contamination," he said.
The Minister requested this roundtable with industry and municipalities to gain further insights on the impact of trespass on farmers, food processing and transport businesses across the province.
"ROMA supports measures that protect rural communities and Ontario's food security," said Allan Thompson, Chair of Rural Ontario Municipalities Association. "Trespass activities on private farm properties can pose a risk to safety and biosecurity, and need to be regulated. Municipalities are responsible for policing, public health and public safety and will benefit from new tools to help keep our communities safe."
"Farmers face unique risk because home and work are often the same place," said Hardeman. "While people have the right to participate in legal protests, this does not include trespassing on farms or interfering with the transportation of livestock or processing facilities. Everyone has the right to a safe workplace, and in the case of our farmers, a safe home."Source : Ontario