In today’s day and age, you can never be too careful to protect yourself and your home or farm. It seems like every day, you turn on the television to hear more about shootings and other crimes. But the good news is that there are many steps we can take to ensure on farm safety and security.
Here are a few suggested ways to protect yourself and your property.
1. Security cameras. Security cameras are easier than ever to install and afford; no longer do they have to include bulky drives and professional installers. If you go to any Home Depot, Best Buy, Amazon, or Menards, just to name a few, there are a ton of options usually in the $100 to $200 range. The technology includes sensors that can differentiate between humans, cars, and animals; the video is saved in the cloud; and some of them even tie into Amazon’s Alexa! “Alexa, show me the barn camera. Alexa, show me the driveway camera.” View your farm from anytime, anywhere.
2. If you receive online threats, make sure to document them. Screenshots are the best way to document activist threats. Unfortunately terrorist activist organizations have been known to burn down or destroy field trials of GMOs, and vegan animal-rights activists have threatened farmers safety. Animal-rights extremist groups have also been known to steal, kill, or release animals, destroying property or burning down farm buildings in the process. Occasionally we hear stories about farmers who have been targeted and end up sleeping in their barns — they may even have guns or guard dogs to help protect them.
It may sound crazy to the average outsider, but it does happen. And if you receive any threats of invasion, death, or harm, document them. The chances of something extreme happening are probably slim, but you can never be too sure or careful. Which leads to the third point:
3. Familiarize yourself with local law enforcement. Make sure you know who your local police officers are, that they know you have livestock and valuable machinery, and that they know where you live. If you feel threatened or are dealing with unwanted trespassers, try to be proactive and not reactive and keep police in the loop should if you see suspicious activity.
4. Post “No Trespassing” signs. This is more of a legal protection sort of thing to create known boundaries on the property, similar to the way hunters manage their land. Posting these signs and signs explaining the premises are camera-monitored help people realize exactly what is happening on the property, and it may deter others. It sounds as though penalties are becoming stricter, and trespassing on farms should be treated no differently than trespassing in someone’s home.
5. Have proper locks in place. Although crime rates tend to be much lower in rural farm areas, do what you can to keep building and animals locked in their respective areas, if applicable.
6. Utilize protection groups with good resources. An example of this is the Animal Agriculture Alliance, which are experts in dealing with this exact sort of thing and have FBI agents on standby while also working with politicians to ensure proper regulations and penalties for those who break in, steal, harm, or do other destructive damage on farms. Other examples of organizations to follow that help protect livestock farms especially are Protect The Harvest, HumaneWatch, and the National Animal Interest Alliance.
Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is an Iowa-based farmer, public speaker, and writer, who lives and works with her boyfriend on their farm, which consists of row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.