Letter of the Day | Get tougher on farm terrorists
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The Jamaica Agricultural Society is calling for stronger measures to be implemented quickly against farm terrorists in light of the stealing of 100 pigs from farmers in St Catherine. These measures should include the increase of fines and penalties under the Agricultural Produce Act from $250,000 to $3 million and the redefining of praedial larceny under the Larceny Act to include livestock, as currently the definition only covers ground provision.
The JAS is also requesting that the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries extend the Animal Identification Tagging Programme to pigs, goats and sheep, as was done with cattle more than two years ago. The JAS estimates that over the last 10 years, farmers have been losing approximately $6 billion annually. As such, we want the Government to set up a Victim Compensation Fund for affected farmers and to bring praedial larceny under the proceeds-of-crime law, where those caught and found guilty should have their assets seized by the court and disposed of and funds be used to support affected farmers.
The JAS is commending the Praedial Larceny Prevention Unit in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, which has seen a 14 per cent drop in reported cases of farm theft since the unit was established two years ago. The JAS would like to see more support for this unit, which has started to have a positive impact.
The Rural Agricultural Development Authority must also be commended for the registration of approximately 177,000 farmers, and the JAS will be intensifying the sale of receipt books and would encourage farmers to both register and purchase the receipt books as a part of the process to assist the police with enforcement.
The education of the police and judiciary is also very important. To win this battle, there must be total commitment from all stakeholders to send a clear message to farm terrorists.