Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Senator Norman Grant has appealed for the establishment of a Compensation Fund for farmers.
In piloting debate on his Private Members Motion, Grant, who was recently re-elected president of the Jamaica Agricultural Association (JAS), also renewed his call for praedial larceny to be placed under the ambit of the Proceeds of Crimes Act.
"I call on the Senate to expedite the process to set up this framework, we need help for our farmers," Grant declared.
"Praedial larceny is big crime, it's not petty crimes and we must treat it as such," Grant said.
His sentiment received the endorsement of former Agriculture Minister Senator Christopher Tufton.
"There is a need to for an education programme to include legislators," declared Tufton. "Part of the practical organisation is using the JAS to collaborate with government organisations to get people to appreciate the import of the situation. Praedial larceny does not affect only farmers, it affects entire community and has implication for health and trade, it is a clear and present danger to the entire society," stressed Tufton.
The former minister also called for the setting up of a special court to deal specifically with praedial larceny cases. Tufton, however, expressed reservation about the practicality of setting up a compensation fund.
In the meantime, Grant suggested that a registry be established on which the names of persons convicted of praedial larceny be placed and carried at police stations.
"The message must be that there is no escape for farm thieves," he told the Senate.
Declaring that the laws governing praedial larceny must be extended to encompass fish and livestock, Grant urged legislators to increase penalties for offences under the legislation from $250,000 to $1 million.