May 1 was a good day for animal rights activists in Canada.
And a frightening day for livestock producers in the country.
Ontario farm groups are frustrated with a decision to drop charges against an anti-meat campaigner who broke into a hog barn and took two animals from the barn.
“(This) court decision negatively impacts all of Ontario agriculture,” said Keith Currie, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
“Our system of law and order is based on consequences for breaking the law. Without meaningful prosecutions that act as a deterrent to future crimes, activists become bolder in their actions.”
The charges, now dropped, are related to a woman who entered a hog barn near Lucan, Ont., several times, without the knowledge of the farm owners.
CTV News reported the woman is Jenny McQueen, a member of Direct Action Everywhere, which opposes animal agriculture and eating meat.
Speaking Wednesday outside the courthouse in London, Ont., McQueen said the court decision was a partial victory.
“While it’s a victory for animal activism, it’s not such a victory for the mother pigs and for all those animals in Canada and around the world that are being hidden behind factory walls.”
The dropping of charges was a surprise because McQueen recorded video of the pigs and conditions inside the barn. McQueen was in the video, so there was no question that she had entered the barn.
“She also acknowledged taking two animals from the barn,” Farm & Food Care Ontario said in a statement
“She had been facing charges of break and enter and mischief to property worth more than $5,000.”
Farm & Food Care Ontario issued a statement on the court decision on behalf of Ontario Pork, Turkey Farmers of Ontario, Egg Farmers of Ontario, Chicken Farmers of Ontario, the Ontario Fur Breeders’ Association, Veal Farmers of Ontario and Ontario Sheep Farmers.
For Eric Schwindt, chair of Ontario Pork, this was a clear case of trespassing on private property and invasion of privacy.
“For farmers and their families, having their homes and businesses invaded is deeply troubling, whether by large groups of protestors or stealth incursions at night.”
Schwidnt said the video produced by McQueen and other “activist attempts to discredit farmers” in Ontario have resulted in no charges against producers.
“Farmers work closely with veterinarians, nutrition specialists, regulators and other experts to monitor and maintain the health and safety of their animals and property,” Farm & Food Care said.
“Healthy, safe farms are important for the people who live and work there, as well as for animals and consumers.”