HISTORIC legislation that increases the penalties for illegally trespassing on farms has passed through the NSW Parliament.
Under the Right To Farm Bill, penalties for protesters found guilty of aggravated trespassing on a farm property will increase from fines of up to $5500 to three years' jail time and up to $22,000 in fines.
The bill was drafted in response to a series of on-property protests at NSW farms by animal rights activists last year.
Deputy premier John Barilaro said as the state's farmers faced tough times due to drought and fire, the last thing they needed was the "threat of trespassers".
And Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said NSW farmers were now protected by the toughest trespass penalties in the country.
"We are the first jurisdiction in Australia to enshrine in law a farmers' right to farm their land and have rigorous protection from the threat of illegal farm incursions," he said.
"If a farmer is undertaking lawful agricultural activities, they will have the full protection of the law in NSW against farm invasions, intimidation and interference in their farming operations."
The new penalties will be in force in by 2020.
Bathurst MP Paul Toole told state parliament last month that the tougher penalties were long overdue.
You know what? This is an emotional issue.Bathurst MP Paul Toole
"As someone who has grown up on the land and who has an affiliation with agricultural activities in my electorate-having uncles, brothers and sisters who still live on the land as their main form of making a living-the bill tackles a serious issue in this nation," Mr Toole said during a debate on the bill.
"The Labor Party has criticised The Nationals for bringing this emotive, sensational and provocative bill to the House.
"You know what? This is an emotional issue. It is an emotional issue for the families who are fearful that vigilantes may set their sights on them next.
"There is nothing remotely sensational or provocative about wanting to protect farming families in NSW from unlawful trespassers and to protect their stock and their properties' biosecurity status."