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Defend Your Property!

Bryan Little, Farm Employers Labor Service

October 22, 2019

FELS has received reports of California Employment Department Monitor Advocate Office outreach workers entering farms without permission of the landowner and in some cases entering posted property.

FELS has long recommended that agricultural employers vigorously defend their property against trespassers or anyone entering private property without permission or appropriate legal authority for various reasons:

  • Your employees want to work, not have their work interrupted by uninvited “guests” in their workplace;
  • Your employees may fear intruders are immigration agents;
  • Outreach workers are unfamiliar with your farming operation and therefore may enter pesticide-treated areas without proper training and/or personal protective equipment;
  • They may walk or operate motor vehicles in dangerous proximity to farm equipment, raising the risk of accidents;
  • They may trample crops or violate rules and protocols meant to protect food safety or livestock health.

Like attorneys and paralegals from Legal Aid entities, UFW organizers (unless they have executed the procedure to invoke their right to legally access your property as permitted by Agricultural Labor Relations Board regulations for purposes of union organizing; see “What to Do if UFW Takes Access,” FELS Website, March 4, 2019) print and electronic media journalists, and animal rights activists, (and unlike enforcement agents of agencies like Cal/OSHA, the Office of the Labor Commissioner, the County Agricultural Commissioner, federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Labor or Immigration and Customs Enforcement,) Monitor Advocate Outreach Workers have no police authority allowing them to enter your property without your permission.

You have a right to protect the integrity of your private property in several ways:

  • Post your property boundaries wherever possible;
  • Gate footpaths and vehicle entrances wherever possible, and augment gates with “no trespassing” signs;
  • Instruct your supervisors and workers to “greet” visitors as soon as they’ve stepped onto your property; don’t let strangers wander around unnoticed or unchallenged;
  • Politely but firmly inform anyone without law enforcement authority they may not enter the property without proper permission of the property owner;
  • Be clear that non-compliance with your assertion of your private property rights will leave you no choice but to seek assistance from the County Sherriff;
  • Direct unauthorized farm visitors to the farm office; offer anyone seeking admittance a phone number for the appropriate person who can grant or deny access;
  • Direct enforcement personnel to the farm office or appropriate supervisor to coordinate and facilitate the company’s response to enforcement activity.

FELS Newsletter subscribers enjoy access to FELS Group Legal Services program to help you fully understand your private property rights and help you cope with enforcement activity.  You can get more information at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 800-753-9073.