A new Right to Farm Bill in NSW will stop "nuisance claims" against farmers, recognise a farmer's right to farm and legislate possible jail time for people who trespass on farms.
The new Bill to be introduced into NSW Parliament will have the harshest penalties for farm trespass in Australia, NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said.
The Government has already announced some of the new measures under the Biosecurity Act including that 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. Corporations could also face fines of $440,000 for inciting trespass on farms. It follows a number of farm invasions by vegan activists earlier this year that sparked Ag Publishing's Protect Our Farms campaign.
The new measures announced today is a possible three year's jail time for farm trespass. At the moment there is no jail time for trespass in NSW.
The Government promised last month a new raft of measures to protect farming in NSW and these now include:
- Recognising for the very first time a farmer's inherent right to farm
- Establishing a new defence in law for famers going about legal farming practices, shielding them from neighbours suing them for 'nuisance claims'.
- This will mean a court won't be able to order an injunction against an activity that is allegedly causing a nuisance such as trucks moving chickens, spray rigs spraying crops etc. It will also stop third party claims against farmers.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said the Bill would help address increasing attacks on farming families.
"The people of NSW have had a gutful of vile attacks against our farming families. This legislation is all about sending the clearest possible message: enough is enough," Mr Barilaro said.
"If you invade a farm in NSW you will face up to three years behind bars.
"If you move next door to a farm and decide you don't like the way it looks or sounds, then you won't have the grounds to take that farmer to court with nuisance claims.
"We are telling our farmers today 'we value the work you do and we will protect you and your families from these criminals," he said.
Mr Marshall said the changes would ensure NSW had the toughest penalties in Australia for farm trespass, including new offences that do not exist in any other State or Territory.
"Here in NSW we back our farmers 100 per cent, so it makes sense we'd have the toughest penalties for those that decide to wreak havoc on our primary producers," Mr Marshall said.
"The community has had a gutful of farm invasions and have said existing penalties of up to $5,500 in fines are just a slap on the wrist. We've listened to that and will now establish the toughest possible penalties in the nation for farm invasions.
"This legislation will also go further by recognising for the first time a farmer's inherent right to farm and providing protections for those facing costly legal action for simply going about their business.
"If you're farming legally, and have so for many years, you're not going to cop a nuisance claim and potential legal action just because some folks from the city moved next door and decided they didn't like the sound of your dairy cows."
The Bill comes on top of regulatory changes recently introduced under the Biosecurity Act 2015, which impose further offences and large financial penalties for farm trespass that breaches on-farm biosecurity plans. This includes on-the-spot fines of $1,000 and fines of up to $220,000 through the courts.
The main new penalties in the Right to farm bill are:
- Penalties for farm trespass will be increased from fines of up to $5,500, to three years jail time and up to $22,000 in fines. Trespassers may also face additional biosecurity fines introduced by the NSW Government in July.
- A new offence will be created for inciting or causing a trespass.
- New aggravating factors for trespassing in a group, damaging property and wilfully or negligently releasing stock. No other State or Territory has an offence for group trespass.