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Committee Scales Back, Sends ‘Ag-Gag’ Bill To Senate Floor

A Senate committee passed a bill that makes it easier for farmers to charge trespassers.

trespassing

Photo: lucianvenutian (flickr)

The bill aims to reduce trespassing on farmers' property.

A Senate Committee dramatically scaled back so-called “ag-gag” legislation today.

The bill would originally have criminalized photographing or videotaping agricultural operations if the business was harmed.

The legislation authored by Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, initially criminalized any activity on agricultural operation property, such as photography or videotaping– that results in financial loss for that business.

After significant opposition from environmental groups, animal rights organizations and the Hoosier Press Association, Holdman took out that portion of the bill.

All that remains is language that makes it easier for farmers to charge trespassers. Specifically, he says, the bill removes the requirement for farmers to regularly post “No Trespassing” signs around their property.

“This basically says if you step over a fence, a reasonable person would know that that’s onto somebody else’s property,” Holdman says. “If it is a farm operation and you go into that operation – let’s say it’s a pasture – that’s trespass.”

Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, who opposed the original version of the bill, says Holdman’s changes address the real concerns of farmers.

“We have a lot of smaller farmers with people getting on their property and four-wheeling or going and trespassing and digging up ginseng,” Stoops says.

A Senate committee approved the bill Tuesday. It now heads to the Senate floor.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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