On-the-spot fines of $1000 for farm trespassers

Farm animal vigilantes put on notice - fines of up to $220,000

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Farm Online and The Land started the campaign to stop animal vigilantes entering farms, with tougher trespass laws that have been followed through by the NSW Government today. Inset is one of the farm owners who saw their biosecurity breached on farm by activists and another who had their details published online.

Farm Online and The Land started the campaign to stop animal vigilantes entering farms, with tougher trespass laws that have been followed through by the NSW Government today. Inset is one of the farm owners who saw their biosecurity breached on farm by activists and another who had their details published online.

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Beefed up trespass laws for activists targeting farms

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Trespassers on farms that have biosecurity plans will be hit with $1000 on-the-spot fines, with the potential for fines of up to $220,000 under new trespass laws in NSW.

Corporations could also face fines of $440,000 for inciting trespass on farms such as those conducted earlier this year.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall announced a major shakeup of the NSW Biosecurity Act.

A new offence has been created that will see illegal trespassers on farms, creating biosecurity risks, handed an immediate on-the-spot fine of $1000 and further fines of up to $220,000 per person and $440,000 for corporations.

The new penalties will start from August 1, and are the first stage of a "broader suite of measures being developed to protect NSW farmers' right to farm".

Farmers must have a biosecurity plan and appropriate signage to instigate the legal action against alleged offenders.

The Land started the 'Protect our Farms' campaign earlier this year after details of farms were put on a map of Australia where activists claimed animals were being mistreated. The activists obtained videos and photos of farm areas without permission. A group known as Aussie Farms published the farm details online.

It led to a major outcry at NSW and Federal levels over alleged breaches by animal liberationists and vegan activists who had taken video and photos on properties without permission and targeted farmers. There was also a sit in at an abattoir in Goulburn during the vegan protest that also led to a partial CBD closure of inner Melbourne.

Related: Join our campaign and protect our farmers

Federal trespass laws are also being considered to control, trespassers but this is expected to have rough ride through the Senate with the Greens claiming the laws could infringe on human rights.

But the NSW Government has bitten the bullet first on the new trespass laws.

"Vigilantes who are entering our farmers' property illegally are nothing short of domestic terrorists - our farmers have had a gutful. They don't deserve, nor have time, to be dealing with illegal trespass and vile harassment from a bunch of virtue-signalling thugs," Deputy Premier John Barilaro said in Corowa today.

"The NSW Liberals & Nationals in Government are putting in place the harshest penalties in the country and sending a strong warning to those who think it's okay to illegally invade farms and harass our hard-working farmers.

"But we aren't stopping there. We are also looking at ways we can further deter this kind of behaviour, including introducing legislation and potential jail time for offenders."

Mr Marshall said the government was determined to clamp down on illegal farm invasions and was working on additional changes with further penalties, including gaol time, for those committing criminal acts associated with farm trespass.

"Today we are putting these vigilantes and thugs on notice - your time threatening our primary producers by illegally trespassing and creating biosecurity risks is done," Mr Marshall said.

"The agricultural industry and community have had a gutful of this vile behaviour. These thugs are not only harassing and traumatising hard-working farmers and their families, they're also posing serious biosecurity risks by potentially bringing contaminants and diseases onto properties that could wipe out an entire farming operation.

"Today's announcement complements the work the Commonwealth Government is doing in targeting the online incitement of farm trespass."

Member for Albury Justin Clancy said: "I welcome today's announcement and look forward to further work from the NSW Government to protect farmers' right to farm in the Albury electorate."

The Government said in a release that: "under the changes to the Biosecurity Regulation 2017 it will become mandatory for site visitors to comply with a Biosecurity Management Plan.

"Anyone who enters a designated biosecurity area without permission and without complying with the plan's requirements may be guilty of an offence under the Biosecurity Act 2015, and subject to the new, harsher penalties.

"To access the new offence, farmers will need to have a biosecurity plan in place and appropriate signage. Farmers are encouraged to contact the Department of Primary Industries or their Local Land Services office for more information."

Dorrigo dairy farmers Julie and Michael Moore (at left in photo) were among hundreds of farmers who have been listed on the Aussie Farms interactive map.

Earlier this year, Julie and Michael Moore, fourth generation dairy farmers who milk 140 cows, were among hundreds of farmers who have been listed on the aussiefarms.org.au interactive map.

The map details the location of farming operations from pigs to eggs, fish, dairy and beef to racecourses, abattoirs, greyhound tracks and even zoos.

"This is so scary, I know pigs and abattoirs have been targeted before but now any farms it appears is going to be listed," Mrs Moore told The Land's Sam Townsend earlier this year.

"This is a total breach of our biosecurity and an invasion of our privacy."

Related: Farmers call on police for advice

The Land published a video on the Moore's farms showing how activists had trespassed past clear biosecurity warnings on their Dorrigo farm and showed there was no justification for any of the claims made against them about alleged treatment of their animals.

Queensland feedlot owner Sherrill Stivano, Roma, was also furious at having details of her feedlot operation revealed on the Aussie Farms website (at right in photo).

National Agricultural writer for The Land and other Ag papers in Australian Community Media, Mike Foley, was instrumental in the national campaign 'Protect our Farms' to get tougher laws against activists targetting farms.

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