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Hoosier Legislators Considering So-Called “Ag Gag” Bill

PHOTO: A bill before the Indiana legislature is trying to keep people from photographing or filming on farms without permission. Watch dog groups oppose it saying that it would hinder their efforts for public safety.
PHOTO: A bill before the Indiana legislature is trying to keep people from photographing or filming on farms without permission. Watch dog groups oppose it saying that it would hinder their efforts for public safety.
February 21, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Senate Bill 373 - the so-called "Ag Gag" bill - is meant to keep people from videotaping or photographing on farms or businesses without prior permission from the owner. The bill's author, Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Dist. 19), said its purpose is to protect Hoosier businesses from being harassed or embarrassed by "vigilantes."

Environmentalists and news organizations oppose the legislation, as does The Humane Society of the United States, said HSUS state director Erin Huang.

"We should all be able to see exactly where our food is coming from - what is happening in these facilities," she said, "and of course, it's also an animal welfare concern."

The bill was amended to allow taping of suspected illegal activity. However, such documentation must be turned over to law enforcement or regulators within 48 hours and cannot be disseminated.

Huang said HSUS successfully used undercover video in Wyoming, Vermont and California to bring animal abuse and major food safety concerns to the public. The undercover video in a California slaughterhouse led to the largest meat recall in the nation's history, back in 2008, she added.

"It revealed the sick animals being slaughtered for human consumption - the 'downer cows,'" she said. "It was food that was going potentially to school cafeterias. This video would not have been possible had these 'ag gag' laws been in place."

If Senate Bill 373 passes on third reading today in the Senate, it will move on to the House.

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN