By Theresa Goodwin
Local farmers who have suffered at the hands of thieves say they are not optimistic about government plans to review the laws governing praedial larceny to include a provision where they could be compensated for their losses.
Agriculture Minister Samantha Marshall revealed over the weekend that the Ministry of Legal Affairs is currently reviewing an updated version of the existing legislation.
She said while perpetrators are being prosecuted, it is equally important for farmers to receive damages.
While this may be welcomed news, a number of farmers say they would rather wait to see the outcome noting that previous administrations have made similar promises.
One veteran farmer told Observer the revision of the outdated legislation to provide better assistance for farmers could be a very good thing – if it comes to fruition.
The vegetable farmer said he is still awaiting compensation for crops that were damaged when his farm was invaded by birds.
Another crop farmer, who was held at gunpoint by thieves years ago, also stated that he would rather wait to see what happens before speaking prematurely.
“So many things have been said in the past and we are still here discussing the same matter. We continue to suffer and there is not much that can be done because it is difficult to put identifying marks on vegetables,” the farmer said.
A livestock farmer, on the other hand, said he is hoping for some level of improvement to the matter.
The farmer noted that he, along with most of his counterparts, are now rearing livestock as a hobby after giving up on the possibility of earning a living from it.
He said year after year they have invested upwards of $10,000 or more to purchase goats and other animals, only for someone to steal them leaving them emptyhanded.
Several farmers have long reported hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses through the theft of livestock and crops.
There is also a perception among some that police do not take reports of agriculture theft seriously unless the culprits are caught red-handed.