New powers available for farmers to protect on-farm biosecurity
Farmers have a new tool to protect their properties and animals from unauthorised trespass and biosecurity threats following the implementation of the Livestock Management Regulations 2022.
The regulations came into effect on 31 August 2022 and follow the successful passage of the Livestock Management Amendment (Animal Activism) Bill through the Victorian Parliament earlier in the year.
Under the regulations, farmers will be able to have trespassers onto their property prosecuted, so long as a Biosecurity Management Plan is in place and warning signs are displayed on all farm entry points.
Farmers are not being forced to follow these regulations. The new rules create a voluntary framework that farmers can choose to opt in to, or not.
The VFF encourages farmers to opt in and use these regulations to help protect their property from biosecurity threats and from unauthorised trespass.
In order to be protected under the regulations, and for an offence to be enforceable, farmers must:
- Prepare a Biosecurity Management Plan that contains mandatory content, and;
- Display warning signs that comply with the regulations at all entry points to their property.
The VFF has worked closely with Agriculture Victoria to help develop the regulations which govern the content that must be contained in biosecurity management plans and displayed on warning signs.
Whilst the new regulations are somewhat onerous, the government had to balance concerns about regulatory burden with issues of procedural fairness and natural justice for the public. The VFF has accepted the need to ensure these principles are protected through regulation, in exchange for laws that will help deter unauthorised interference with farm properties. This is a power Victorian farmers have never had before.
In helping to reduce regulatory burden, a key point of the VFF’s advocacy focused on farmers having the ability to update their existing signs, rather than having to go to the expense of purchasing new ones.
Farmers who already have biosecurity warning signs produced by Animal Health Australia or Plant Health Australia will now be able to print stickers and place them over their existing signs to ensure they are compliant with the regulations. We are actively seeking ways to assist farmers in being able to secure signs and stickers to ensure compliance with the regulations as soon as possible.
For information on the new regulations and for a full explanation on what you must do to protect your property, visit the Agriculture Victoria website:
VFF Members are able to call the VFF on 1300 882 833 for further advice and assistance.