By MICHELLE SLATER
FARM trespassers will now be slugged with fines of up to $55000 under new biosecurity laws introduced in Victoria last month.
The new livestock management laws will allow farmers to voluntarily establish extra biosecurity measures on their properties to protect them from trespassers.
Offenders who enter agricultural premises without consent will now cop $1300 on-the-spot fines for individuals, or nearly $8300 for organisations.
More serious offenders will face $11,000 for individuals and $55,500 for organisations.
Farmers had been pushing for hefty trespass fines after several incidents of radical vegan activists entering properties and stealing livestock, intimidating farmers and staff, and disrupting businesses.
It comes after about 70 animal rights activists entered the Gippy Goat in Yarragon on 2018 and took several head of livestock, later forcing the owner to close his farm tourist café.
The incident sparked a parliamentary Inquiry into Animal Rights Activism on Victorian Agriculture, which included recommendations for on-the-spot fines for trespassing.
Agriculture Victoria regulatory policy executive director, Angela Brierley, said these new laws would help to deter people from trespassing on farms and better enable prosecutions of trespassers.
“Victorian farmers work hard to keep their animals safe and protect them from pests and diseases with robust biosecurity systems,” Ms Brierley said.
“These new laws seek to deter behaviour that puts that hard work and the safety of their animals at risk.”
Ms Brierley said producers choosing to take advantage of these new protections must have a biosecurity management plan that includes a farm map, information and signs.
Specific visitor consent procedures must also be followed under the new laws.
“Producers who already have an on-farm biosecurity plan in place can simply add a BMP coversheet to this plan to be covered by the new laws,” she said.
“We recommend using the BMP coversheet templates available from our website to ensure all mandatory information is included.”