Kenney vows new measures to shield farmers from 'anti-farming militants'
'Alberta’s farmers and ranchers treat their animals well'
The Alberta government plans to introduce new measures to protect farmers from what it calls illegal protests.
Premier Jason Kenney made the announcement Thursday at the Jumbo Valley turkey farm, near Fort Macleod, where dozens of animal rights activists gathered last month in a protest against commercial poultry farms.
About 30 of the activists staged a sit-in inside the barns.
The manager of the Jumbo Valley Colony says they are fully regulated and follow all animal welfare and food safety standards.
Trev Miller, one of the organizers of the turkey farm protest, says animal advocates saw birds raised in inhumane conditions.
He says they want to end to all commercial poultry operations in Canada.
"As long as these commercial turkey farms exist, there will be injustices and ways that animals are treated disrespectfully," he said.
Miller says animal advocates plan on having more protests in the future and will be targeting a variety of operations.
Kenney referred to the protesters on Thursday as "anti-farming militants," and said his government is considering several new protections for farmers against trespassing and illegal protests.
"Alberta's farmers and ranchers treat their animals well, and they have a right to run their operations without illegal harassment from militant trespassers," he said.
The premier said he has asked Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen and Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer to "consider all options, including legislation, to protect livestock producers' operations and their families from harassment."
Options being looked at include steeper trespassing fines — as much as $200,000 for organizations — and changes to the Animal Health Act so that protesters placing biosecurity at risk on farms can be fined up to $30,000 and jailed for a year.