Federal bill protecting farmers one step closer to reality

·2 min read

Foothills MP John Barlow began 2020 by introducing a private member’s bill that proposed amendments to the Health of Animals Act.

The amendments in Bill C-250 would enact new penalties and stiffer punishments for protestors and organizations that carry out protests by trespassing onto private farm property.

Mr. Barlow proposed the bill after protesters broke into a family’s turkey barn outside Fort Macleod. The bill passed second reading in the House of Commons on March 10 and will go on to be studied by the standing committee on agriculture and agri-food.

Having the bill pass second reading, says Mr. Barlow, is an exciting step forward in protecting Canadian farmers.

“It’s always rewarding when you have bipartisan support for something that you’re proposing in the House,” he says. “To get the support of the Bloc and the NDP and some of the independent members to get that legislation through second reading is pretty special.”

The bill is intended to reinforce legal protections supporting the food chain and animal health, as well as the mental health and security of farm families and their employees, by prohibiting individuals who “without lawful authority or excuse, enter a building or other enclosed place in which animals are kept.”

The restrictions are aimed at eliminating the risk of animals being exposed to a toxic substance or disease, thus protecting national food security alongside the agricultural and food industries.

The legislation also includes provisions to protect whistleblowers who legally are permitted to be on private farm property, such as employees or family members. The bill does not prohibit an individual’s right to peacefully protest on public property.

The bill is expected to go before the House for third reading this fall, but could be delayed if a federal election is called.

Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze