Farmers and agricultural groups are lauding two bills passed by the Manitoba government meant to protect communities from rural crime. 

The President of Keystone Agricultural Producers Bill Campbell was among the industry leaders who praised the bill as a necessary measure for increased security in rural areas. 

“Improvements to trespassing and biosecurity laws are important steps in ensuring Manitoba farm families feel safe and biosecurity protocols are maintained,” said Campbell. 

One of the two laws, Bill 63, went into effect on Friday, October 15, 2021. The legislation, titled the Petty Trespasses Amendment and Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act, makes entry onto certain rural premises without permission an offence. The bill includes premises such as farms and storage facilities within its scope. 

Meanwhile, on October 8, 2021, a separate law, Bill 62, otherwise known as the Animal Diseases Amendment Act was also enacted. Bill 62 provides increased protection to “biosecurity zones” such as farms and facilities where animals are housed and processed. 

Critics have accused the Manitoba government of unfairly targeting animal rights activists, but proponents of the law have stated that the bills extend beyond simple activist activities and are meant to ensure the safety of animals as well as farmers. 

“That’s part of it. Obviously, if people are entering a facility unauthorized and posing a danger to … the safety and biosecurity, this is what’s really looking to address that,” said Agriculture Minister Blaine Pedersen.

“It is not specifically for [activists], but it does cover that element.”

Last week, Manitoba RCMP announced that rural police reported crime rates have dropped significantly over the last year. 

Between August 2020 and August 2021, rural communities in Manitoba saw an average 11% decrease in crime. 

The drop was experienced across several crime categories including assault and robbery which fell by 29% and property crimes which fell by 23% in the province’s East District. 

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