Posted January 16, 2014
 
An Indiana Senate Committee recently delayed a vote on a proposed “ag-gag” or farm trespasser bill, according to an article by the Associated Press, available here.
 
Senate Bill 101, available here, “aims to protect farmers who say that unwanted visitors could hurt their business by taking unflattering photos or sharing trade secrets.”  Possible penalties include felony charges.
 
The bill was originally intended to curb “secret videotaping at Indiana farms” and was rewritten this session to focus on trespassing,” after animal rights groups expressed concerns that the bill would discourage whistleblowers from reporting animal cruelty, according to an article by the Indiana Business Journal available here.  
 
State Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle) said he introduced the original bill when he learned of an “animal feed delivery man who videotaped conditions on a private farm to post on YouTube.” Negotiations, however, between the House and Senate last year, resulted in a revision that changed the focus to employment application fraud.  This year, negotiators have revised the bill again, focusing on penalties for farm trespassers. 
 
A vote was scheduled for Tuesday, but the Indiana Senate Criminal Law Committee delayed the vote after several proposed amendments, according to Chairman Mike Young (R-Indianapolis).
 
Animal rights organizations are opposed to the bill.  Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) spokesman Matthew Dominguez said, “No matter how it’s drafted, we’re going to be opposed to it…People have a right to know how animals are treated on these industrial farms, and passing a law that punishes whistleblowers is not good.”

 

For more information on animal welfare, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.