Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020 strengthens protections for farm families, agri-food employees, animals and the food system while maintaining the right to public, peaceful protests. Trespass poses unique risks to the food value chain regarding food safety, biosecurity, animal stress and farmer mental health. Limiting interactions between the public and the elements of the agri-food supply chain ensures the safety of Ontario’s food supply, from farm-to-table.
Beginning September 2, 2020, the Ontario government has made it an offence to stop, obstruct, hinder or otherwise interfere with a motor vehicle transporting farm animals by proclaiming four key sections of Bill 156. Proclamation of these sections enhances the safety of the public, transport drivers, and animals from the risks posed by obstructing or interfering with livestock transport vehicles. A citizen’s right to lawful protest remains, but interfering with livestock transportation vehicles is prohibited.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) appreciates the work of the provincial government in ensuring a steady and reliable food supply and the safety of those who feed us, including farmers, food processors and transport drivers.
Despite the new sections of Bill 156 coming into force, animal rights activist protests continue outside of Fearman’s Pork processing plant in Halton. While not directly blocking transport vehicles, protestors are walking deliberately slow repeatedly through the crosswalks, preventing trucks from turning into the plant’s entrance. Increasingly, activists are gathering on medians near the intersection of the plant, touching transport vehicles waiting to turn and interfering with the animals on board. One activist has been fined under section 6 (1), which prohibits a person from stopping, hindering, obstructing or otherwise interfering with a motor vehicle transporting farm animals, receiving a fine of $490. Lack of enforcement continues to be an issue, as police seem reluctant to lay additional charges.
Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is seeking public input on proposed definitions and approaches for regulations which would support the Act. The Minister and MPPs are holding consultations, meeting with local community farmers and agri-businesses to discuss the proposed regulations and seeking feedback on how to better protect Ontario’s food supply chain. Public input on the remaining parts of regulations under the Act are being accepted until October 15, 2020. The discussion paper can be found by visiting Ontario’s Regulatory Registry.
OFA is facilitating on-going weekly discussions with livestock and poultry groups, general farm organizations and industry partners to determine whether the proposed definitions and approaches for regulations from OMAFRA adequately ensure the safety and security of farmers, their families and the provincial food supply.
To learn more about how Bill 156 protects food safety and supports the needs of the agri-food sector, visit AboutBill156.com.