Civil penalties for trespassing on or vandalizing agricultural or horticultural lands would be increased under legislation approved Thursday by the full Assembly, 72-0.
The minimum civil penalty under the bill (A-4233) would be raised from $1,000 to $2,500 if the court determines that the damages sustained exceed $10,000. This increased penalty would be in addition to any other applicable fines, penalties or restitution.
The measure’s sponsors, Assembly Democrats Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth) and Adam Taliaferro (D-Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland) released the following joint statement:
“There’s no reason for anyone to trespass on or damage property on farmland. People who knowingly or recklessly harm crops, buildings or fences, live trees or domestic animals on farms should be held accountable for their inexcusable actions. Farmers and growers give us our food, preserve our open space and take care of our environment. Their workplaces are agricultural and horticultural lands, and they must be treated with respect.”
The legislation now goes to the Senate for further review.