By Clinton Monchuk
In the last year, a few provinces have either proposed or implemented new legislation aimed at protecting animals and the family farmers who care for these animals. The intent of this legislation is to ensure individuals without knowledge or experience of animal husbandry do not unlawfully enter onto livestock and poultry operations.
Just as a flight crew guards a cockpit while a plane is midflight, these anti-trespassing laws are necessary to protect the animals, those who care for them, as well as uninvited visitors.
My family runs a poultry farm in rural Saskatchewan. The dozen or so neighbours who drive by our barn know it is ours, and none would ever think of coming onto the property without authorization from either my brother or myself due to common courtesy and common sense. However, several cases have been reported of individuals who have broken open doors, restricted access to someone else’s private property, or even threatened farmers to the point of requiring restraining orders. No one in any workplace should have to deal with people threatening their safety. No farmer or rancher should have to live in fear of someone intruding into their barns, pastures, or property and frightening the animals and individuals who work there.
Animal welfare is top priority for anyone raising farm animals in this country. This means we need to manage who comes into our barns. Everyone — truckers, veterinarians, feed nutritionists – are required to sign in and sign out of our poultry barn. As well, many farms have specific protocols for changing clothing or showering, all in an effort to reduce diseases from the outside to spread to our animals inside. A farmer or rancher cannot ensure the proper care of animals if unauthorized individuals enter into a barn and cause unnecessary stress to the animals.
There are audited programs that ensure farmers and ranchers are taking care of the animals. These programs are based on nationally approved codes of practice that have been developed with a diverse group of stakeholders, from scientists and veterinarians, to farmers and animal welfare advocates.
I regularly post videos of our family farm and have hosted many tours to show how we produce food and care for our animals. I’m extremely passionate about growing food for others, and I know others in this profession feel the same.
I acknowledge there are some in this country that don’t share my desire to consume animal protein, and I respect their ability to choose. However, a vast majority of Canadians do enjoy animal proteins, and these new trespassing laws will help ensure the safety of animals and those who care for them.