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Round Table Discussion Held On Farm And Food Safety Risks

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Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman was a part of a round table discussion with rural municipal leaders and provincial livestock transporters in London today.

LONDON - Animal farm safety was one of the topics discussed during a recent round table in London.

Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman hosted a round table with rural municipal leaders and provincial livestock transporters to discuss the risks and dangers of interference with animal transportation.

Other topics that were featured included farmer and food safety risks surrounding on-farm trespass to farmers and farm businesses.

Hardeman says it's important to look after farmers and the agriculture industry across the province.

"Farmers feed people, and we all know supporting their efforts to produce high quality, safe foods is important for Ontario. That's why we need to protect farmers, agri-food businesses, farm animals, and our food supply. I want to thank everyone who joined me today to talk about the importance of further safeguarding Ontario's farmers and agriculture industry."

MPP for Perth-Wellington and Parliamentary Assistant Randy Pettapiece joined Hardeman to address concerns raised by farmers, food processors and animal transportation companies following a number of incidences of trespassing.

Hardeman adds it's up to the government to ensure food supply is safe for consumers in Ontario.

"Ontario consumers also have the right to expect their government is ensuring our food supply is safe, including protecting it from unlawful interference and contamination."

Hardeman requested this round table with industry and municipalities to get further insights on the impact of trespass on farmers, food processing and transport businesses across the province.

Trespassing on farms and other agri-food premises poses risks to the safety of farmers, employees, their families, animal welfare and public health.

Chair of Rural Ontario Municipalities Association, Allan Thompson says they endorse the efforts to protect food communities.

"ROMA supports measures that protect rural communities and Ontario's food security. Trespass activities on private farm properties can pose a risk to safety and biosecurity, and need to be regulated. Municipalities are responsible for policing, public health and public safety and will benefit from new tools to help keep our communities safe."

Hardeman says all people, including farmers, have a right to feel safe at work and home.

"Farmers face unique risk because home and work are often the same place. While people have the right to participate in legal protests, this does not include trespassing on farms or interfering with the transportation of livestock or processing facilities. Everyone has the right to a safe workplace, and in the case of our farmers, a safe home."

Trespassers can unknowingly expose animals to stress and disease - and compromise our food safety by introducing contaminants in the food supply system.

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