The four activists charged on several counts of break-and-enter and mischief at Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford last year plead not guilty this week, forcing the case to trial.
Amy Soranno, Jeff Rigear, Roy Sasano, and Nick Schafer see the trial as an opportunity to shine a light on how farms treat animals, and the way the BC SPCA and the justice system are “complicit” in what they consider injustices.
“Animal agriculture can’t get special treatment because of its relationship with the BC SPCA,” Soranno wrote on Facebook following the appearance. “We need the BC SPCA to hold them accountable.”
Soranno described the charges as “extremely heavy-handed,” given that the break-and-enter charges could result in up to 10 years in jail.
But livestock producers are urging the province to introduce tough penalties against trespassers.
BC Cattlemen’s Association, the BC Chicken Growers Association and other groups are urging the province to follow through on amendments announced at Ag Day in Victoria last year.
“We’ve seen Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta make huge strides in this very quickly,” BCCGA president Dale Krahn told broiler producers last week. “BC continues to work slowly on this, and it is a concern for all of us as farmers for our properties, our families, our livestock.”
Producers want the provincial government to move quickly once normal operations resume following the election.
Keeping the issue in front of government is smart, said BC Chicken Marketing Board chair Harvey Sasaki, speaking from his experience as a former assistant deputy agriculture minister.
“Amendments to legislation are not simple and easy to shepherd through,” he says. “But getting a renewed priority commitment … in their first year of renewed government would be a good objective to set for them.”
The next court appearance for the four charged in the Excelsior case is set for December 14.