Ontario farm groups strongly disagree with yesterday's decision to drop charges against a well-known animal rights activist.
"Yesterday's court decision negatively impacts all of Ontario agriculture," said Keith Currie, President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture speaking on behalf of numerous farm organizations including Ontario Pork, Farm & Food Care Ontario, Turkey Farmers of Ontario, Egg Farmers of Ontario, Chicken Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Fur Breeders' Association, Veal Farmers of Ontario and Ontario Sheep Farmers.
"Our system of law and order is based on consequences for breaking the law. Without meaningful prosecutions that act as a deterrent to future crimes, activists become bolder in their actions. They're also fundraising through their illegal activities, thus profiting from breaking the law."
In 2016 and 2017, the activist is alleged to have entered a hog barn near Lucan, Ont., on multiple occasions, without the knowledge of the property owners. In 2018, she admitted in a media interview to recording video inside the barn on these occasions, and submitting it to various authorities for investigation. She also acknowledged taking two animals from the barn. She had been facing charges of break and enter, and mischief to property worth more than $5,000.
For many farm families in Canada, home and work are uniquely connected. Recent incursions by animal activists onto farms and into buildings clearly defined as private property violate the Trespass to Property Act, RSO 1990. These actions put the security of all involved at risk, including farmers and their families.
"For farmers and their families, having their homes and businesses invaded is deeply troubling – whether by large groups of protestors or stealth incursions at night," said Eric Schwindt, chair of Ontario Pork. "It's important to note that recent activist attempts to discredit farmers have resulted in no charges against the farms they targeted. For farmers, police and regulators, these incidents tie up vital resources that could be put to better use elsewhere."
Ontario livestock farmers follow high standards of animal care. Those standards of care include biosecurity protocols designed to protect animals from disease. Anyone entering barns or farms, handling animals or moving between barns without following proper biosecurity protocols puts the health of animals, the safety of food and the livelihood of farmers at risk.
Farmers work closely with veterinarians, nutrition specialists, regulators and other experts to monitor and maintain the health and safety of their animals and property. There are clear protocols in place with the authorities to investigate and address concerns that are brought forward. Healthy, safe farms are important for the people who live and work there, as well as for animals and consumers.
Livestock groups and other farm organizations in Ontario will continue to work with each other, police and government to support the rights of farmers to protect their property from illegal activities.
Farm groups slam decision to drop charges against activist
Property incursions are a risk to animals and families, says OFA.
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