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Bill C-275 reintroduced as avian influenza outbreaks continue

A government bill that was taken out when the election was called last year is being reintroduced as farm biosecurity is a topic in the ag sector.

Bill C-275 would make it an offence to enter, without lawful authority or excuse, a place in which animals are kept if doing so could result in the exposure of the animals to a disease or toxic substance that is capable of affecting or contaminating them.

That's particularly relevant as avian influenza is running rampant across the prairies, with multiple outbreaks being detected in a handful of provinces.

Conservative MP for Foothills and Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Agri-Food John Barlow says that ensuring those farms stay safe and food supply is managed takes priority.

"It died on the order paper, and that's what happens and we had to reintroduce it this parliament which we did earlier this week. Hopefully, we can get it to the finish line this time around, because I believe as we see what's going on with the bird flu and other types of viruses and diseases, we need to protect our biosecurity on farms, and this is exactly what this legislation will do."

Barlow named protestors and activists who move from farm to farm as a safety risk for animals.

He says that legislation can also raise awareness as to just how much those diseases can impact the agriculture sector.

"What we have to do and what this legislation does is first off it raises a lot of awareness about the risks that our agriculture sector faces when it comes to these viruses," said Barlow, "Whether it comes to avian influenza or African swine fever or BSE. Our food supply is very susceptible to these kinds of outbreaks."

Luckily, the agriculture community already has strong biosecurity in place when it comes to vulnerable populations.

Barlow says that he's seen just how dedicated farmers are in his own constituency.

"We have very robust security protocols in place anytime you go to a farm following CFIA guidelines. If I go see a poultry farm or a hog farm in my riding I'm in many cases wearing booties, or a suit, or a hairnet, all these types of things to make sure these facilities are protected. So those types of things are in place.

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