Photo: Mary Crandell (Flickr)
A bill to make it easier to file trespassing charges against people who stray onto farm property is headed for the House floor.
The Senate has already passed a bill which reduces the amount of property damage needed for felony charges, and removes a requirement that farmers post “no trespassing” signs.
Leah Beyer, who represents the Indiana Soybean Alliance, says trespassers are an ongoing nuisance for farms, destroying fences and driving across fields of crops.
“Many times they will say there was no sign posted,” she says, explaining it can be difficult to persuade prosecutors to file charges it there are not signs.
Supporters argue it‘s not practical to post signs for all of a sprawling farm property, and that trespassers often just tear them down anyway.
But Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee contend the scenarios Beyer and other farm lobbyists describe can be handled under existing trespass and mischief laws.
Rep. Ed DeLaney, R-Indianapolis charges the bill is a veiled effort to target activists who try to sneak cameras onto farm property.
“I like the signal of the posting signs. I’m telling this other person that you’re dealing with someone who really doesn’t want you here,” he says.
The bill also requires actual property damage to trigger felony provisions.
Earlier attempts at the legislation left open the possibility of prosecuting over damage to a business‘s reputation, prompting opponents of last year‘s version to nickname the bill “ag-gag.”