Last week, 70 animal liberation activists broke into a pig farm and locked themselves in a farrowing shed. They refused to leave and were removed from the premises after a nine hour standoff with police.
This is an escalation of an already serious crime of farm trespass. Farmers need protection from these unlawful incursions by activists. To ensure that farmers are protected we need comprehensive action in three key areas.
Firstly, we need to ensure that we have a modern legislative framework that is able to protect farmers. In our 2018 NSW Budget Submission, NSW Farmers is asking the NSW Government to commit $2 million over four years to strengthen legislative and regulatory requirements and controls for farm trespass by establishing a cross-departmental working group to review existing regulation.
We have also asked the Government to develop a comprehensive education campaign to reinforce a clear message that farm trespass is not okay. It sounds simple, but clearly it is needed.
Secondly, we need to ensure that the police are able to investigate and prosecute crimes that have been committed.
There has recently been a restructure of the NSW Rural Crime Investigators to ensure that addressing rural crime is a top priority. Their resources are allocated based on need, so it is crucial that every instance of rural crime or farm trespass is reported.
We need the government to partner with industry to ensure that farms are protected. Farmers want to invest in technology to ensure that they are protecting themselves and to assist in gaining prosecutions.
NSW Farmers has asked the Government for $10 million over four years to offer rebates to farmers who purchase and install surveillance devices on their property to help with the investigations of rural crime. Farmers need protection from farm trespass and the time for action is now.
- NSW Farmers’ pork committee chair Ean Pollard