Cutler Agricultural Biosecurity Area Proposal Signed into Law

A measure advocated by Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Peach Bottom) to increase the safety of livestock and other farm products by defining agricultural biosecurity areas and the criminal penalties for trespassing into them has been signed into law. 

“This legislation was crafted with the input of the Farm Bureau, PennAg Industries, the Ag Coalition and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and I am pleased to see it signed into law,” said Cutler.  “A trespasser on agricultural lands can unwittingly have a devastating impact on the health of livestock and poultry.  Farmers deserve this protection, and the safety of our food supply warrants this policy.” 

Gov. Ed Rendell signed Senate Bill 906, authored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Berks/Chester/Dauphin/Lancaster/ Lebanon), into law on Nov. 23.  The legislation was the Senate companion to Cutler’s House Bill 511, which passed the House with unanimous support in June. 

The new law creates a definition of “agricultural biosecurity area,” and gives the Department of Agriculture specific authority to require that such an area be established if deemed necessary to control or contain disease, and to require that it is clearly and conspicuously posted.  

Additionally, the legislation makes it a misdemeanor of the third degree to enter an agricultural biosecurity area without authorization, and a summary offense to enter such an area without first performing the posted biosecurity measures. If either of the two aforementioned offenses results in death of or damage to an animal or plant within the agricultural biosecurity area, the penalty is a misdemeanor of the first degree; however, the bill does provide a defense to prosecution if no method to perform the measures was available, entry is made in response to a serious threat to human or animal health, or entry is made by law enforcement in pursuit of a suspected criminal or to prevent the destruction of evidence. 

Finally, trespassing into an agricultural biosecurity area will be considered ecoterrorism if there is intent to release a dangerous transmissible disease or hazardous substance into the environment. 

“I thank Senator Folmer, Representative Jerry Stern and all the other policy makers who collaborated to bring this law into fruition,” said Cutler.  “I believe farmers will rest easier at night knowing there is a serious deterrent to trespass on their lands.” 

Rep. Bryan Cutler
100th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(717) 786-4551
(717) 783-6424
Contact:  Nicole Wamsley or (717) 783-8063
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