Farm Safety

Written By: Deputy Cody McBeth, Sonoma County Sheriff's Office Rural Crimes Task Force
Published: November 4, 2019

In the last two years, and most recently in June of 2019, we have seen unpredictable, and sometimes chaotic events in Sonoma County brought on by animal rights activist groups. Since the mass arrest of 98 activists in June, the animal rights groups are adapting and coming up with unique strategies to enter and sabotage our Sonoma County farms. The animal rights activists have gone to such extremes as to disguise themselves as United States Department of Agriculture inspectors to enter farms and conduct reconnaissance.

Here are some tips and suggestions to better protect your farm.

Uniforms: Easy and identifiable uniforms worn by employees. It would be best if the uniforms displayed the company’s insignia, company name, and employee name. Best practice would be to create a uniform that would be difficult to recreate for protestors.

Lanyard Badge: Another idea that would be more cost-efficient than providing uniforms to all employees would be a simple lanyard badge. A lanyard badge can be worn around your neck. The badge would be either laminated or encased in a plastic holder. The badge would have a picture of the employee, their name, company name, and job title. We do know that having something hanging from a worker’s neck may not be the most practical application. We would suggest pinning the badge to an employee’s shirt or uniform in this situation.

Visitor Check-In: What is the process for visitors to check-in? Checking out? If there is no process for visitors to check in with staff, this needs to be addressed. We suggest there be an office location or a check-in/out station where visitors can do so. This helps with tracking subjects who come and go from your property. In addition to this, supplying the visitor with a “visitor badge” would be helpful in identifying visitors walking around the property.

If you are experiencing an issue, no matter the kind, please always contact the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office immediately. The faster the Sheriff’s Office is contacted the faster we can try and resolve the problem. It is especially important regarding suspicious persons, vehicles, or activity around your farms. Animal rights activists have been surveilling farms to plan their next protest. It is important to contact the Sheriff’s Office so we can attempt to contact these people and identify them.

I would also like to reiterate a topic that was brought to my attention and is always good to remember. One of the most important and easy things you can do is to post clear and visible “No Trespassing” signage on your property. This sends a message to unwanted guests that they are not welcome and could be subject to prosecution. Posting signs at all entrances to your property and making sure signs are clearly visible is crucial. Post additional signs along your property line, no less than three signs per mile. Signs are generally inexpensive and will help law enforcement when building a case against a trespasser.

At the Sheriff’s Office, you can obtain a Trespass Action Request form. It is a simple form that allows the Sheriff’s Office to enforce the provisions of California Penal Code section 602 (trespassing). This form allows the Sheriff’s Office to enforce trespassing related issues without the owner of the property present. Once the form is completed and approved our dispatch can inform incoming deputies there is a Trespass Action Request on file. Once again, it is another tool that helps to build a case against a trespasser.

We at the Sheriff’s Office want our agricultural family to feel safe, secure and protected while operating their businesses. We strive to provide everyone with professional and fair enforcement. No matter how small you feel the problem is, do not be afraid to contact the Sheriff’s Office, specifically the Rural Crimes Unit.

Owner Applied Number (OAN). Why farmers need it!

Stolen vehicles are linked to their owners through the Department of Motor Vehicles. Stolen livestock can be traced through brands registered with the Bureau of Livestock Identification. Trailers, tractors, tools, and other farming equipment do not have a database where they can be easily identified. This is where the Owner Applied Number (OAN) comes into play. The OAN number is uniquely yours. It is stored in a database in the National Crime Information Center. When property with your OAN number is discovered, the marked property can be traced and returned to you from anywhere in the United States.

OAN Example: CA 054 0001 A

(CA) – The first two letters of the state the OAN was issued.

(054) – Assigned number for county OAN was issued in.

(0001) – Computer-generated number.

(A) – The first letter of the last name.

Once you have applied and received your OAN number, you can stamp, engrave or paint the number on all your farming equipment, even chemical containers.

If you haven’t already done so, make sure to call and apply for an Owner Applied Number (OAN). We can even assist you in applying the number to your farm equipment. If you have any questions or would like to apply for an OAN, please call the Sonoma County Rural Crimes Task Force, (707) 565-3940.

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