How to protect your farm from animal activists

An agricultural solicitor has shared helpful advice for the UK agri-food sector following the rise in incidents of animal activism.

Aled Owen, a partner in HCR Law has shared helpful advice for the UK agri-food sector following the rise in incidents of animal activism.

Aled Owen, a partner in HCR Law agriculture and estates team, reinforces the importance of heightened vigilance and preventative measures when it comes to these types of incidents.

He said: “Animal activists are more sophisticated than ever before.

“And as recently highlighted by National Pig Association chair, Rob Mutimer, they are increasingly targeting both farm businesses and processors.”

Remain calm

Mr Owen said that while encountering activists on a company’s premises is extremely challenging, it is essential to remain calm in the heat of the moment and take the right steps to help protect your business.    

“When activists are present on farm, it may be tempting to engage with them.  However, it is crucial to refrain from doing so,” he explains.   

“Prompt involvement of the police not only helps manage the situation but also eliminates the necessity for any commentary due to the incidence being ‘subject to police inquiry’.   

“And, although activists have the right to protest, the methods they employ may sometimes lead to legal violations. It’s therefore important to let the police handle these matters professionally.”  

READ MORE: ‘Pignorant’ activists occupy Norfolk pig processing plant

Introducing security measures

Mr Owen advises that all farms and processors adopt more robust preventative measures to protect their operations and proactively mitigate potential disruptions.

“Security measures such as CCTV, security lighting, and fencing are essential. However, what often gets overlooked is the importance of thoroughly vetting potential employees,” the expert said.

Aled Owen

Mr Owen recommends conducting thorough background checks and scrutinising potential employees, especially when their experience appears questionable or misaligned with the job they are seeking or when their qualifications do not match the job requirements.

He concluded: “Make sure employment contracts include specific conditions that prohibit employees from working with third parties, as any breach of these terms constitutes fraud.

“Unfortunately, this is a problem that is unlikely to go away. I’d therefore suggest that all farm businesses and processors employ preventative measures and take the right steps in the event of being targeted, to help protect themselves and their businesses.”

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