As the new trespass laws hit NSW Parliament for debate, farmers have inundated Local Land Services offices seeking biosecurity warning signs to place on their properties.
Incredibly in just over 6 weeks, the NSW Government has distributed 22,000 signs across the 11 Local Land Services regions and through the NSW Police Rural Crime Prevention Squad.
"We have another 11,000 currently being printed to be sent out to LLS and the Rural crime Prevention investigators," a spokesman for Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said.
The changes to the Biosecurity Regulation 2017 gives farmers access to this protection that commenced on August 1. Farmers must display the signs if they are to seek prosecution for trespass.
"This is triple the number we anticipated and this demand is driven exclusively by farmers actively seeking out the signs through their LLS office and at events like Ag-Quip. They are not compulsory nor do we issue them to farmers." Farmers should put their number on the sign, the LLS said.
With farmers taking an average of two signs each, there are well over 10,000 farmers who have wanted to access this protection. Each print run was exhausted, the Government said.
Mr Marshall started the second reading the Right To Farm Bill 2019 in NSW Parliament this week.
He said the Bill was "historic" for farmers around our State and the agricultural sector. "Not only does this Bill introduce the toughest suite of trespass laws in Australia, it is also the first time that a farmer's right to farm will be embedded in our laws, protecting farmers from vexatious and often simply ridiculous nuisance claims."
The Right to Farm Bill 2019 amends the Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901 and introduces a new Act, the Right to Farm Act 2019, known as nuisance shield legislation.
The Bill will: increase penalties and introduce new offences including; increase the penalty for aggravated trespass from a maximum of $5,500 to $13,200, including a new 12 month imprisonment (or 3 years if committed in company); increase the penalty for the aggravating trespass which causes a serious safety risk by introducing a 3 year maximum imprisonment term;
Introduce new offences to address common trespass activities including: an aggravating offence for damaging property in the process of the unlawful entry and wilfully or negligently releasing stock in the process of the unlawful entry; an offence for inciting, directing, counselling, inducing or procuring the commission of the offence of aggravated unlawful entry on inclosed lands by another person (($11,000 and/or 12 months' jail).
Mr Marshall said: "Not only does this Bill introduce the toughest suite of trespass laws in Australia, it is also the first time that a farmer's right to farm will be embedded in our laws, protecting farmers from vexatious and often simply ridiculous nuisance claims.
"We are delivering on our election commitment to step up and protect farmers from vegan vigilantes, illegal hunters and extremist activities that are designed to alienate farmers from those that live in the city, damaging our farmers and confusing consumers.
"The significance of this Bill cannot be overstated the farming community. Other industries for decades have enjoyed specific protections and legislative defenses in our laws and yet farmers have been consistently overlooked. No longer will this be the case.
"Farmers are the backbone of NSW. It is not just a private business, or an industry that hums along somewhere over the ranges. Farming provides the food and fibre we rely on to feed not just people in NSW and Australia, but NSW farmers provide sustenance and produce to people right around the world.
"Consumers demand the best in agriculture and this is precisely what NSW farming families deliver. Enshrining their significance in law and imbedding in our statute books an inalienable right to farm is in everyone's best interests."