Article Summary: Recent changes to Livestock Management Regulations 2021 gives Victorian farmers a new set of regulations allowing them greater powers over trespassers and dealing with biosecurity threats. These new laws have three main pillars, to reduce biosecurity threats, to deter people from trespassing, and to enable fairer prosecution of trespassers with the introduction of on-the-spot fines. To be protected by the new laws, farmers must comply with a biosecurity framework, including prescribed security measures, management plans, and signage.

Protecting your farm is a non-negotiable when you're dealing with your livelihood. If you're in Victoria, you've just been given a new tool to equip yourself to manage and protect your farm against biosecurity and trespassing threats.

The recent introduction of the Livestock Management Regulations 2022 in August this year by Agriculture Victoria has given rise to a new set of regulations allowing you greater powers over trespassers and dealing with biosecurity threats. Originally the Livestock Management Act 2010 and Livestock Management Regulations 2021. The recent amendments follow the passing of the Livestock Management Amendment (Animal Activism) bill through the Victorian Parliament in 2022.

The new laws have three main pillars:

  • To reduce biosecurity risks and the spread of disease on Victorian farms

  • To deter people from trespassing on your property with a wider range of possible offences

  • To enable fairer prosecution of trespassers with the introduction of on-the-spot fines.

In this blog, we'll outline the changes to the act, what you must do to comply and how you can benefit as a Victorian farmer. It is important to know that complying with the new act is not mandatory. Still, it ensures you can benefit from additional protection by following a biosecurity plan we'll outline below.

Why were the changes made to the Livestock Management Regulations 2021?

As a farmer, you work tirelessly to keep your livestock safe and your farm free of pests and diseases. Previously, when people put your hard work and current biosecurity management at risk, it left you rather powerless and, overall, difficult to recover from serious incidents. In early 2022, it was passed that new, voluntary laws should protect your hard work when certain behaviours put it at risk.

What are the changes to the Livestock Management Regulations 2021?

The new and improved Livestock Management Regulations 2022 are a voluntary framework that acts as a tool to reduce the risks of biosecurity on your farm, which includes trespassing unlawfully by individuals. The new framework requires visitors to your property to follow prescribed biosecurity measures. Failure to do so is a criminal offence and makes them liable for prosecution.

Suppose you decide to go down the road of implementing this new framework. In that case, you must have a Biosecurity Management Plan (BMP) to complement the measures at your farm, along with compliant signage for any offences to be enforceable.

What must I do to comply with the new Livestock Management Regulations 2022?

1.   Prescribed biosecurity measures

If you choose to implement the new framework on your premises, it is your responsibility, as the farmer, to ensure that you meet the requirements. You must have biosecurity measures in place that address the following:

  • Visitors are only allowed on your premises with consent, and

  • Visitors interfering with or disturbing your animals only do so with your consent.

2.    Biosecurity management plans (BMPs)

A biosecurity management plan (BMP) contains everything to prevent, mitigate or reduce the risk to biosecurity where livestock management occurs. This could be a private farm or an abattoir, for instance. It can also cover an entire property or part of one. 

You can complete and add a prescribed BMP template to your existing biosecurity measures. You can also apply them to other accreditation frameworks related to biosecurity. It must be completed by you if you are the livestock manager. In the BMP template, or coversheet, you must include the following:

  • The title "Biosecurity Management Plan" and the address of the location it applies to.

  • Clear contact information for key stakeholders, such as livestock manager/s and other nominated individuals.

  • A map or detailed description of the area the BMP covers. It must include boundaries.

  • Preparation details that outline the individual/s that prepared the BMP and the date the BMP take effect.

Only when you have included these details in a BMP coversheet to accompany your prescribed biosecurity measures will the offences apply under the new laws. It is recommended, but not mandatory that you include a BMP cover sheet for any related accreditation programs and quality assurance frameworks. It will only make things easier if a serious breach occurs and you must prove your compliance. 

3.     Biosecurity signage

To ensure you have clearly outlined, notified and warned individuals accessing your premises, you must comply with the following criteria for appropriate signage that covers you under the new laws. All signage on your premises must contain the following:

  • The word 'STOP' or 'VISITORS.'

  • A reference that your warning is per 'Livestock Management Regulations, 2021.'

  • A statement that warms a breach of a prescribed biosecurity measure is a punishable offence.

  • A summary of the prescribed biosecurity measures present on your farm that apply

  • Details of how to contact a nominated person. This could be a mobile number, QR code or email address. This must be visible, as it will be used by the visitor to obtain approval to enter your premises.

  • If any information is missing from current signage, you are permitted to print this onto high-quality, sturdy vinyl stickers and modify your signs accordingly.

Then there's the question of consent.

How a visitor can gain access to a biosecure premises

Suppose you have a compliant biosecurity framework in place, and the above guidelines are covered. In that case, a visitor may contact you, the nominated person, via the contact details on your signage to enter your premises.

For the new offences to apply, you must follow visitor consent procedures fairly and transparently. This includes providing written notice of consent and written withdrawal of consent, if applicable. 

What are the penalties under the new laws?

Penalties for non-compliance if your prescribed biosecurity measures and framework are in place include:

  • On-the-spot fine:

    • For an individual, equivalent to $1294 (current to 2023)

    • For an organisation, equivalent to $8321 current to 2023)

  • For more serious offences requiring prosecution and hearing in the Magistrates' Court:

    • For an individual, up to $11,095 (current to 2023)

    • For an organisation, up to $55,476 (current to 2023)

Other offences include:

  • Damaging or defacing a biosecurity sign on your premises

  • Providing misleading or false information to a nominated person when requesting consent to enter the premises

  • Not complying with an inspector's request to view a written notice of consent

And remember, these new Livestock Management Regulations laws are not mandatory 

In summary, to be protected under these new regulations and to enforce a listed offence, you must:

  • Used the prescribed biosecurity measures as outlined by Agriculture Victoria

  • Prepare and complete the specific Biosecurity Management Plans (BMPs)  as administered by Agriculture Victoria

  • Display biosecurity signage that warns trespassers that comply with regulations and is visible at every entry point to your property

If you don't wish to follow these steps, that is your right as a citizen. It just means you will not be able to benefit from the new law amendments. However, your rights as a property owner and a citizen will still apply, as will your rights before the new Livestock Management Regulations 2022 act came into use. 

The new laws are now used to deter individuals and organisations from trespassing on agricultural premises and protect Victorian agriculture's biosecurity. If this is important to you, too, then it is recommended to comply with the regulations to protect our state from threats that could severely disrupt the sector and economy. 

For further information or to access templates and forms, head to Agriculture Victoria online.

Until we meet again, Happy Farming!

- The Dedicated Team of, 2022-12-06