Farmers now more protected than ever

THINKING OF FARMERS: Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke announced new laws to help protect local farmers from animal activists.
THINKING OF FARMERS: Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke announced new laws to help protect local farmers from animal activists.

Farm trespassers will face the toughest penalties in Australia including up to three years jail time, while farmers will enjoy the State's first legislated 'right to farm', under a historic piece of legislation set to be introduced by the NSW Government.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke on Thursday welcomed the news the NSW Government would be implementing additional measures to support farmers in the region.

The proposed legislation will introduce the toughest penalties in Australia for farm trespass, including three years jail time and up to $22,000 in fines. Currently there is no jail time for trespass; New offences and aggravating factors for activities such as trespassing as a group, damaging property and releasing livestock; Legal recognition of a farmer's right to farm, shielding them from nuisance claims.

"Our community has had enough of attacks against hard working farming families," Ms Cooke said.

"This groundbreaking piece of legislation will create a clear deterrent to any would-be vigilantes considering unlawfully trespassing on farming properties across the Cootamundra electorate.

"Importantly, it will also for the first time recognise a farmer's inherent right to farm and provide safeguards against nonsense nuisance claims."

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.

The Right to Farm Bill was an election commitment by the NSW Liberals and Nationals and is expected to be introduced in September.

Penalties:

  • Penalties for farm trespass will be increased from fines of up to $5500, to three years jail time and up to $22,000 in fines. Trespassers may also face additional biosecurity fines introduced by the NSW Liberal & Nationals Government in July.[1]
  • 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.

Right to farm:

  • 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.