Federal Ag Gag-Style Farm Biosecurity Bill Reintroduced in House of Commons

Conservative Member of Parliament and Agriculture and Agri-Food Committee Member John Barlow has reintroduced a farm biosecurity bill in the House of Commons, which passed first reading. Previously introduced as Bill C-205, Barlow continues to sponsor the bill reintroduced as Bill C-275: An Act to Amend the Health of Animals Act (biosecurity on farms). During the previous 43rd Parliament, Bill C-205 sought to punish any person unlawfully on property where animals are kept if they know or are reckless as to whether doing so could result in exposing the animals to a disease or toxic substance. In June 2021, The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food amended Bill C-205 during second reading to apply to anyone whose actions could reasonably result in exposing animals to disease or toxic substances, including farm owners and operators. Bill C-205 was criticized by organizations such as Animal Justice, which emphasized that trespassing and contaminating farmed animals was already illegal, and also the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which raised concerns surrounding the enforceability of the bill. Bill C-205 died when the 43rd Parliament dissolved, before the bill reached third reading. Barlow reintroduced Bill C-275 with almost the same wording as the original text of Bill C-205 (as described above), without much of the amended text. In reintroducing the bill, Barlow emphasized the importance of protecting the health of animals from diseases such as avian flu, African swine fever, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy. See the progress of Bill C-275 here, read the text of the bill here, and read Barlow’s speech here.