Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Norman Grant bemoans "farm terrorism"

Published:Wednesday | August 3, 2016 | 8:00 AM
Minister of Agriculture Karl Samuda (left) and Norman Grant, president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society, examine a pineapple at the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in Clarendon last Saturday.

President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) Norman Grant is calling for a restructuring of laws to enable stiffer penalties for those found guilty of robbing farmers of billions of dollars each year.

"We want the fine under the Agricultural Produce Act and the Larceny Act to be increased from (a maximum of) $250,000 to a maximum of $3 million."

Grant said that because the fine is relatively small it does not do much to prevent farm theft.

He also proposed that the Larceny Act be redefined to include the theft of livestock.

YEARLY LOSSES

Grant, who is also the chairman of the Denbigh Committee, made the pronouncements on Sunday, day two of the 64th staging of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in Clarendon.

Grant bemoaned the fact that the agriculture sector loses approximately $6 billion each year because persons continue to reap what they have not sown.

He said the JAS supports his call and is working with the agriculture ministry to tackle what he described as a "wicked crime".

"The constant battle farmers have with praedial thieves has gotten so big and organised, we now call it farm terrorism.

"Our call includes the setting up of a victim compensation fund to remunerate farmers for the losses incurred."

He further suggested that the Larceny Act and the Agricultural Produce Act be fused with the Proceeds of Crime Act, so if found guilty, perpetrators would not only pay for their criminal act but also pay for the farmers' loss.