Letters to the Editor

Farmers happy with amended legislation

Monday, April 24, 2017    

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Dear Editor,

This is an open letter to Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries Karl Samuda.


Dear Minister Samuda,

The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) and our farmers welcome the announcement of your intention to make amendments to the legislation that will increase fines for farm theft from $250,000 to $3 million, or up to five years’ imprisonment, as a part of the strategy to address the age-old problem of farm theft. The JAS also welcomes the additional amendments which will include livestock, lumber and other classes of agricultural produce.

The JAS would also like to commend the establishment of the Victims Compensation Fund for farmers as well as increasing the maximum fine to $5 million. These measures are critical in order to send a strong and clear message to the farm thieves, as praedial larceny has been costing the sector approximately $6 billion annually, has been having a devastating effect on the farmers and the sector and also presents a clear threat to food safety.

The JAS is also asking the Government to place the praedial larceny and the agricultural produce acts within the framework of the Proceeds of Crime Act, thereby giving the State the authority to seize assets of those who steal from farmers, dispose of them and use them to seed the Farmer Victims Compensation Fund.

The JAS is also calling on the Government to amend the Trespass Act as well, because the present law makes it impossible to take action against someone caught on farms without the permission of the owners. Under the present Act, the thief must be caught leaving the farm with property, hence the farmer is always left with the burden of proof.

The JAS is suggesting that once someone is caught on a farm, then the burden of proof must be shifted to the trespasser, who must explain why he/she is on the farm without the permission of the owner.

The JAS congratulates the Government as well as the previous Administration for the work done leading to these amendments and looks forward to the speedy implementation to the new laws.

Norman Grant

President, JAS

ngrant@mbcfcoffee.com

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