IBJNews

Changes to farm-trespassing bill delay vote

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A proposal that originally sought to crack down on secret videotaping at Indiana farms was rewritten this session to focus on trespassing, after animal-rights activists expressed concerns the effort could discourage whistleblowers from reporting animal cruelty on factory farms.

State Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, said he introduced the original bill last session when he learned about an animal feed delivery man who videotaped conditions on a private farm to post on YouTube. Holdman argued the delivery man violated his "invitee status" and should've been subjected to criminal sanctions.

But although that bill focused on the secret videotaping, Holdman said negotiations between the House and Senate last year transformed it into a crack at employment application fraud. This year, the discussions — and Holdman's new bill — have centered on penalties for farm trespassers.

The Indiana Senate Criminal Law Committee delayed a vote that had been scheduled for Tuesday amid a flurry of proposed amendments, said Chairman Mike Young, R-Indianapolis.

The bill aims to protect farmers who say that unwanted visitors could hurt their business by taking unflattering photos or sharing trade secrets. Violators could face felony charges.

"We've got existing trespassing laws where you would have to prove the person entering the property was denied entry, or that the property was properly signed 'No trespassing,'" said Josh Trenary, executive director of the Indiana Pork Advocacy Coalition. "We want the same protection as someone in a dwelling, where going on their land still is considered trespassing."

Hoosier Environmental Council staff attorney Kim Ferraro said the motives of the proposal are clear.

"This is simply to stamp down and prevent the public from knowing what's going on at factory farms," Ferraro said. "It's a self-serving factory move, and unfortunately some members of the Legislature are buying into it."

Advocates of the bill argue prosecutors might be lenient on whistleblowers, but currently no language in the bill exempts intruders who expose illegal activities. A "safe harbor" for those who cause a loss of business by documenting unlawful acts is underway, Holdman said.

Another change to the bill could kill language allowing farmers to post signs banning potentially harmful activities on their property. Farmers and opponents of the bill alike have spoken against signage.

"No matter how it's drafted, we're going to be opposed to it," Humane Society of the United States spokesman Matthew Dominguez said. "People have a right to know where their food is coming from. They have a right to know how animals are treated on these industrial farms, and passing a law that punishes whistleblowers is not good policy."

ADVERTISEMENT

  • hard hearted
    Did it ever a cure to you if you knew how these animals suffered you maybe wouldn't eat them? These people are not against farming but Factory farming. There is a big difference--- look it up, read a few books and get back to the topic.
  • hard hearted
    Maybe I am just hard hearted, but I really don't see that it matters to the burger on my plate how the cow died. It's a cow, people. We eat cows. We eat pigs, and chickens, and turkeys, and lobster, and fish, and shrimp, and rabbits. I have eaten rattle snake, alligator, conch, and goat. The animal is dead before I get it. I don't need to know how it died. I don't care how it died. I care about how animals are treated which are not grown for eating. Go focus on dogs and cats, if you want my help. Leave the farmer alone.

    Post a comment to this story

    COMMENTS POLICY
    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
     
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
     
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
     
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
     
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
     

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by
    ADVERTISEMENT

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
     
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. How can any company that has the cash and other assets be allowed to simply foreclose and not pay the debt? Simon, pay the debt and sell the property yourself. Don't just stiff the bank with the loan and require them to find a buyer.

    2. If you only knew....

    3. The proposal is structured in such a way that a private company (who has competitors in the marketplace) has struck a deal to get "financing" through utility ratepayers via IPL. Competitors to BlueIndy are at disadvantage now. The story isn't "how green can we be" but how creative "financing" through captive ratepayers benefits a company whose proposal should sink or float in the competitive marketplace without customer funding. If it was a great idea there would be financing available. IBJ needs to be doing a story on the utility ratemaking piece of this (which is pretty complicated) but instead it suggests that folks are whining about paying for being green.

    4. The facts contained in your post make your position so much more credible than those based on sheer emotion. Thanks for enlightening us.

    5. Please consider a couple of economic realities: First, retail is more consolidated now than it was when malls like this were built. There used to be many department stores. Now, in essence, there is one--Macy's. Right off, you've eliminated the need for multiple anchor stores in malls. And in-line retailers have consolidated or folded or have stopped building new stores because so much of their business is now online. The Limited, for example, Next, malls are closing all over the country, even some of the former gems are now derelict.Times change. And finally, as the income level of any particular area declines, so do the retail offerings. Sad, but true.

    ADVERTISEMENT