“oo) What you want (oo) Baby, I got (oo) What you need (oo) Do you know I got it (oo) All I’m askin’ (oo) Is for a little respect” The signature song a Aretha Franklin, written by Otis Redding, may need to be the new theme song for agriculture. You would expect this to be the case in large urban centers like New York, L.A., or even Chicago; but, here in the heartland in cities surrounded by some of the most productive agriculture in the world, there is a lack of respect for agriculture by an elitist group of activists and media. Respect is defined as, “A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” The urban dictionary defined respect as, “A quality seriously lacking in today’s society.” The controversy over two bills currently in the Indiana legislature demonstrates the lack of respect that agriculture gets.
Farm families across Indiana and the Midwest have been having increasing problems with trespassing. From driving vehicles across fields, to dumping litter in pastures, to hunting without permission, trespassing has and continues to be a serious issue for farms both large and small. A bill that would toughen trespassing laws and stiffen penalties for damage caused on farms is currently moving through the Indiana General Assembly. Originally the bill contained language dealing with the unauthorized taking of photos or videos on farms; but, when animal activists and the mainstream media had a temper tantrum, that language was withdrawn. Thus, this bill can no longer correctly be called an “Ag Gag” bill. Yet, still opposition remains. Groups opposed to modern agriculture continue to demand free and unfettered access to farms.
Many people, not involved in farming, view rural land as no man’s land. They do not see it as private property or as part of a business. In the past, farmers had to post signs to prohibit trespassing, something that has become more difficult as farms have gotten bigger and cover a larger area. The SB 101 eliminates the requirement for posting of no trespassing signs. The measure also gets tough with those who either accidently or maliciously cause damage to farming operations. This kind of protection is long overdue.
Another bill before lawmakers would place into state statute the importance of agriculture to Indiana. Authored by Senator Carlin Yoder, this bill states, “The general assembly declares that it is the policy of the state to conserve, protect, and encourage the development and improvement of agriculture, agricultural businesses, and agricultural land for the production of food, fuel, fiber, and other agricultural products.” The measure goes on to state that Indiana shall “protect the rights of farmers to choose among all generally accepted farming and livestock production practices, including the use of ever changing technology.”
Groups who seem opposed to modern agriculture, like the Hoosier Environmental Council, claim this bill is not necessary. This is ironic since it is the actions of radical environmental groups like theirs that are the very reason the bill is being introduced. Laws and lawsuits that these groups propagate to regulate or to eliminate certain farming practices are the very reason this legislation is needed. Indiana Farm Bureau stated that putting this language in state law will insure that agriculture will continue to be protected well into the future, “It is equally important that our laws protect the rights of Hoosiers to advance and grow all businesses, including farms, to strengthen Indiana’s economy and make Indiana a positive place to work, play and raise a family. Farmers need to be able to choose from all farming and husbandry practices to be successful in raising food, feed, fiber and fuel for this and future generations.”
The very fact that a state like Indiana, with its long heritage of agriculture, would have to put this language into state law shows just how dangerous the situation is and how little respect agriculture has in some sectors of our society. Farm families in Indiana and across the Midwest need to stand up and demand that their right to farm is protected against those who would take it away.
By Gary Truitt