National focus on farm trespass
NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, and Federal Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, have jointly hosted a roundtable discussion to discuss the serious and potentially devastating issue of farm trespass.
The roundtable discussion was held at the Elizabeth Macarthur Agriculture Institute at Camden and attended by all key stakeholders in this space, including representatives from other states and territories, NSW Police, RSPCA NSW and a range of industry groups, including NSW Farmers.
Mr Blair said the NSW Government is advocating for a national policy to protect farmers and crack down on the illegal practices of animal welfare activists and others who trespass on farms.
“The NSW Government has already developed and released a policy on this issue, the NSW Farm Incursions Policy, and today represented an excellent opportunity to discuss a truly national approach in more detail,” Mr Blair said.
“The issue is of national concern, but together we are united in this fight – producers, animal welfare enforcement agencies, industry associations, individual farmers, police and government.”
The policy includes:
- a community awareness campaign to provide vital education to the public about the economic, biosecurity and animal welfare risks and implications of on-farm trespassing, as well as raising awareness of lawful, animal husbandry practices
- proactive and preventative security strategies will be developed with industry to further deter trespassers, such as owner-initiated surveillance cameras, signage and fencing
- compliance and enforcement operations, run in conjunction with NSW Police, to target high-risk farms and respond to intelligence
- under this program, Police will work with high risk producers and industries on how best to protect themselves and their businesses and to improve the chances of successful prosecutions in suitable cases to crack down on farm trespass, nuisance and surveillance offences
- strict new penalties, under the proposed NSW Biosecurity Bill, due to go to Parliament shortly, which supports the prosecution of people who deliberately create biosecurity risks.
Mr Blair will report next year to AGMIN, the meeting of all primary industries ministers from Australia and New Zealand on how the implementation of the NSW Farm Incursion Policy is progressing.
Minister Joyce said there are enormous benefits in having a nationally consistent and coordinated approach to this issue, and said the forum was an opportunity for a frank and forward discussion.
“People who illegally enter farms and conduct unlawful surveillance not only cause distress to farmers and animals, they disrupt vital business practices and can even injure or kill animals, causing widespread production losses,” Minister Joyce said.
“Farm trespass can also potentially spread devastating diseases, and puts at risk the lawful practices of our world-leading farmers right across Australia.
“Let’s be clear – to break and enter is a crime and all farmers have the right to be protected against unauthorised persons on their property.”