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7.1.04

Food Terrorism

Trespass Laws For Farms Get Tougher

Animal-rights activists are sneaking into barns to snap photos of penned-up pigs, freeing chickens from cages and vandalizing farm equipment.

In response, farm groups and rural law enforcement agencies launched a massive lobbyingeffort this year to push a bill through the Legislature to strengthen trespassing laws on farms and ranches. They did it in the name of homeland security.

... Effective immediately, a trespasser on land or buildings where "cattle, goats, pigs, fowl or any other animal is being raised, bred, fed or held for the purpose of food for human consumption" can be fined $100 for a first offense and, for a second offense, up to $1,000 and sentenced to six months in jail.

... In February, two women sneaked into a Corcpork Co. pig shed in Tulare County through a ventilation-access panel. The company, which markets pork products under the Farmer John label, says it has 90,000 animals at its disease-controlled facility. No one can enter without showering and wearing sanitary protective clothing. The women managed to flash off a few shots from a digital camera before employees caught them and called the police.


The new law doesn't strike me as unreasonable in terms of the penalties imposed, especially if there are other, similar trespassing laws already on the books. But I wonder about the effectiveness of using increased penalties to prevent terrorism. If al-Qaida can find people willing to die in the process of committing terrorist acts, I'm sure they can find people willing to face a fine or some jail time. At best, deterring non-terrorist trespassing might diminish the stock of "how-to" knowledge that a terrorist could draw on. To prevent food supply terrorism, what's needed is increased security so that people don't get into the plants to do the act, rather than increased punishment after it's been carried out.

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