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The Conservative Shadow Minister for Agriculture John Barlow has launched a private member’s bill, intending to protect farmers from animal activists who have plagued Canada’s agricultural industry.
Over recent years, farmers have often complained of animal rights groups trespassing on their private property—leading to their equipment and livestock being harmed.
Animal activists also pose a dramatic risk to biosecurity of Canadian food. Speaking to The Post Millennial, Barlow said that the “biosecurity of our food supply is integral. I don’t believe that the protestors understand the potential consequences of what could happen if they walk onto these properties.”
In the last decade, there have been multiple instances of animal rights activists skirmishing onto the land of farmers, leading to deep anxiety amongst those in the agricultural industry.
“The first focus is to address the mental health and anxiety around agriculture right now—it’s at a crisis point,” said Barlow.
“When you have these protestors or animal activists, it’s one thing for them to protest out on the highway, but when they break onto you property and break into your barns, it’s really stressful.”
Despite this, Barlow was quick to assert that the bill would not “muzzle protests.”
“We are not trying to stop these animal activists from having their say. What we are saying is that there is a very serious biosecurity risk. I believe that this bill will get cross-party support as we are protecting the integrity of our supply chain,” he added.
If Barlow’s bill does receive the necessary support for it to become legislation, protestors would now be risking heavy fines if they were to harm the farmer’s animals or spread disease.
As well as this, if these protestors were organized by an animal rights pressure group, they could be held financially liable with fines of up to $500,000.
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture has applauded Barlow’s bill, saying that they “believe that the introduction of this bill is an important and necessary step in the right direction.”