Is your farm ready for activists?

It’s an unfortunate reality for many farmers — the very frightening possibility of activists targeting them on their private property, where their homes are, where they care for their livestock and raise their children.

Last weekend, Ontario dairy farmers were left shaken when activists trespassed on private property, entered barns without permission, and reportedly, even stole a dead calf.

The events have left several outspoken farmers angry, but also feeling extremely violated. It’s one thing for activists to protest in a public space, but it’s quite another to have highly-motivated and agitated strangers enter your place of work and home yard. Imagine if these same people did this in the city? How quickly would police respond? How seriously would they be dealt with?

I, for one, am extremely concerned on several fronts. Putting aside the threats to biosecurity and animal and human safety, I am most concerned for the well-being of our farmers — myself included, as a livestock producer. To feel physically threatened IN YOUR HOME is completely unacceptable, and, yes, very illegal. It’s also mentally taxing. I’m concerned about future interactions between farmers and trespassers. When people are threatened, they want to protect themselves. At a minimum, this means many “open barn door” events and invitations to farms will be cancelled or never planned. This will set back our industry and erase the efforts that have been put into building trust and transparency. But, and we have to talk about this, there is a very real possibility of someone — activist or farmer — getting seriously injured or worse, killed.

As a farmer, do you know your rights? If someone shows up unannounced, with a plan to protest or “liberate” animals, do you have a plan? Have you ever called in a strange vehicle staking out your property? Unfortunately, this type of suspicious behaviour is becoming all too common.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has a fact sheet regarding this kind of situation on its website, and tells farmers to first call 911, to use extreme caution, and, if possible, record your interactions with trespassers, as voice recordings or video could be useful evidence later.

These directions are a good place to start, but farmers also need to be asking their commodity groups what they are doing or plan to do, in the face of escalating threats to farmers.

These are our homes, where we raise our kids, and earn our livelihoods. Nothing could be more important.

RELATED:

Property vs. personal protection: Know your rights

4 thoughts on “Is your farm ready for activists?

  1. So basically you’re expecting what, for farmers to be able to harm trespassers? “The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has a fact sheet regarding this kind of situation on its website, and tells farmers to first call 911, to use extreme caution, and, if possible, record your interactions with trespassers, as voice recordings or video could be useful evidence later.

    These directions are a good place to start, but farmers also need to be asking their commodity groups what they are doing or plan to do, in the face of escalating threats to farmers.” You said, “BUT farmers also need…” so you’re suggesting that farmers team up and talk about alternatives to policing and simply recording your interactions with the people. I can’t imagine what alternatives you are insinuating be put into place or discussed but it seems violent. This article is in bad taste.

    1. I don’t endorse violence at all, quite the opposite! I want to see rural policing being more aware of what’s happening and perhaps receiving added training, and farmers being fully aware of how to handle these situation, and commodity groups offering this training so that they DO NOT become violent.

  2. Weird. Do Canadians not have a right to self defense? In the United States, not only do we have a right to self defense but we have a right to the BEST self defense. If that is deemed a knife we can use a knife. If a club, we can use a club. But in reality, the BEST self defense – when the stuff hits the fan – is a firearm. Nearly everywhere in the USA there is a castle doctrine which means – if I understand correctly – when there is an intruder in your home and I think on your property – you do not have an obligation to retreat. You can act in whatever way is necessary until the threat is neutralized. That does not mean you can kill everyone. It means until the threat is neutralized. If there were a history of left wing activists – antifa, environmental extremists, etc – with histories of stalking and threatening (as there is in the USA), I would think a gun is a very handy thing to have.

  3. Another threat to the farms is cross contamination, my brother in law worked on a farm and he had to shower before and after work to ensure he didn’t bring anything onto the farm that could harm the live stock. If those protesters are going farm to farm they pose a significant health threat to the animals via what they carry on their shoes and persons?

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