VICTORIAN farmers will need a biosecurity management plan for new trespass fines to apply to their properties.
New laws have been introduced in Victoria to allow livestock owners to voluntarily establish extra biosecurity measures on their properties, to protect them from trespassers.
But they don’t go far enough, according to the Nationals.
The changes to the Livestock Management Act 2010 and Livestock Management Regulations 2021 have introduced offences for non-compliance with prescribed biosecurity measures, including entering agricultural premises without consent.
Offenders will face on-the-spot fines of $1,294 for individuals and $8,321 for organisations, the toughest fines in Australia. Further penalties of up to $11,095 for individuals and $55,476 for organisations could apply for more serious offending.
However, it is still unclear what the new laws and fines will mean for livestock farmers with land along waterways that the public is able to access. In March this year, the Liberals and Nationals proposed two amendments to the Livestock Management Amendment (Animal Activism) Bill 2021 to double the maximum fine for individuals to $21,809 and to protect a farmer’s river frontage land. However, Labor with the Greens and Independents in Parliament’s Upper House blocked the proposed changes.
Leader of the Nationals and Shadow of Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said the changes are a step in the right direction, but fall short of what Victorian primary producers were expecting.
“The uncertainty of landholders shows how little consultation has taken place, and farmers are still unsure if changes affect their property.
“The Andrews Labor Government has been dragging its feet in implementing any changes and these simply don’t go far enough,” he said.
“While Victoria’s on-the-spot fine is marginally higher than New South Wales, Victoria’s maximum fine for individuals pales in comparison.
“Their questions around liability still haven’t been answered, and doesn’t address concerns around licenced waterfrontages,” Mr Walsh said.
“Landholders need certainty that they have control over their property and their livelihoods, and they should have the opportunity to opt out of the program.
The Nationals proposed amendments that would put power back into landholders’ hands and maintain Victoria’s biosecurity in the face of the ongoing threat of Foot and Mouth Disease, which Labor rejected.”
New laws will help deter farm trespassers
Agriculture Victoria executive director of agriculture regulatory policy Angela Brierley said the new laws will 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.
“These new laws seek to deter behaviour that puts that hard work and the safety of their animals at risk,” Ms Brierley said.
Ms Brierley said producers choosing to take advantage of these new protections must have a biosecurity management plan (BMP) that includes a farm map and mandatory information, as well as compliant biosecurity signage. 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.
“We recommend using the BMP coversheet templates available from our website to ensure all mandatory information is included.”
For an offence to apply under the new laws, the biosecurity management plan must include:
- A clear title: including the words ‘BIOSECURITY MANAGEMENT PLAN’ and the address of the premises to which it applies.
- Contact information: the name and contact details of the nominated person(s), for example, the owner or livestock manager.
- Area description: a description, map or plan of the whole or specified part of the premises to which the BMP applies, that accurately describes the boundaries of the premises.
- Preparation details: additional details including the day that the BMP comes into operation and the name of the person who prepared the BMP.
Biosecurity plans will be checked by inspectors
A Victorian Government spokesperson said the Biosecurity Management Plans plans will be checked by Agriculture Victoria inspectors in the event that a livestock producer has concerns with people not complying with the biosecurity measures.
“Producers are encouraged to have a Biosecurity Management Plan in place on their property to mitigate biosecurity risks and protect our agricultural industry.”
The State Government said a producer may include only their own or exclusively leased land in their biosecurity management plan, including land adjacent to public land along waterways. A Biosecurity Management Plan cannot apply to licensed Crown water frontages.
There are no plans to suspend camping and fishing on Crown land. To minimise biosecurity risks camping must be 20 metres, washing 20 metres, and waste disposal 50 metres away from waterways. These regulations have been set by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in consultation with Victorian Fisheries Authority, Agriculture Victoria and public consultation.
The government said it is taking increased action to ensure Victoria is prepared for any biosecurity risks from an emergency animal disease (EAD) such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), with extensive measures already underway.
The government has no plans to erect biosecurity signage on licensed public land along waterways that livestock also have access to as it is already an offence to interfere with livestock on licensed Crown river frontage.
For more information or to download templates visit: agriculture.vic.gov.au/bmp
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