By Bruce Buttar
Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Unwanted trespassers on farm property are a reality for Ontario farmers. With a growing interest by consumers in where their food comes from, and more people travelling to rural areas for outdoor experiences, it’s not surprising that farmers are experiencing unwanted visitors on their farms. And it’s more than just an annoyance…it’s a biosecurity threat.
In a recent survey of Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) members, more than half of farmers surveyed reported having unwanted visitors or trespassers on their farm in the last five years. The majority of those surveyed had no biosecurity plan in place, including signage about biosecurity or trespassing.
This needs to change. The risk to biosecurity, especially for livestock operations, is very real and has the potential to pose a risk much larger than to just our own operation. Crop farms also run a risk if trespassers unknowingly bring new diseases into our fields or onto our property.
Building a biosecurity plan doesn’t need to be a daunting task. There are some simple steps that can reduce risk on your farm.
Make a statement with signs. When we surveyed OFA members, only one third of them had clearly posted No Trespassing signs. Start there. And if you have a livestock farm, consider adding biosecurity STOP signage too.
Put a lock on it. Lock building doors and vehicles.
Restrict and record entry into barns. When visitors do come in your barn and farm buildings, provide disposable booties or a disinfectant foot bath.
OFA reminds farmers to be prepared and call police if necessary. With an increased threat of activists and trespassers, OFA continues to advocate for more vigilant enforcement of trespassing.
For more tips on building a biosecurity plan for your farm – or to print biosecurity STOP signs – visit omafra.gov.on.ca and search under “biosecurity”.