Bill does more to protect farmers

ANIMAL rights activists who trespass on farms could be slapped with bigger fines and even jail time under the Summary Offences (Trespass on Primary Production Premises) Amendment Bill, which continues to be debated in state parliament.

The draft bill creates a new offence, aggravated farm trespassing, which penalises those who trespass on primary production land and interfere with the primary production activities or do anything that puts the safety of people on the land at risk.

The penalties for the new offence will be a $10,000 fine or 12 months imprisonment and compensation for the farmer.

Member for Flinders Peter Treloar said at the second reading of the bill last month that while there had been a surge in anti-farm activism it had predominantly occurred in the eastern states, and South Australia had remained somewhat protected.

However, in January this year Cummins Meat Processing, Minniribbie Farm and the Ceduna racecourse were listed on the controversial 'Aussie Farms' website.

Mr Treloar said the arrival of the website had raised concerns activists would begin targeting South Australian farms.

"To anyone who wants to look at it, this website provides maps with the locations of meat-processing facilities, horse racing tracks, showground pens, dairies, chicken and pig farms, sheep and cattle properties and aquaculture sites, including those in South Australia," Mr Treloar said.

"There are concerns - hence this legislation - that activists may now target South Australian farms with little appreciation or understanding of the biosecurity threats that unauthorised access can pose to industry."

Mr Treloar said he supported the bill as farms were often the homes of families and it was important that people felt safe in their home and their workplace.

Other proposed changes including the doubling of maximum fines for trespassing on primary production land to $1500 and penalties for disturbing farm animals would increase from $750 to $2500 or a prison term of six months.

"Disruption to farming practices by protesters is an ongoing risk that needs to be managed in a sensitive and reasonable fashion, and our farmers need support to be informed about how to deal with these challenges, their rights and what steps they can take should their farms become targeted," Mr Treloar said.

This story Bill does more to protect farmers first appeared on Port Lincoln Times.