SB373, which would protect farming operations from unauthorized photography or videotaping, went before the House Judiciary Committee on Monday. Bob Kraft with IFB says the bill underwent some major editing, “The bill now no longer even mentions videotaping, it is really a trespass bill.” He told HAT the bill strengths Indiana trespass laws to unquestionably criminal trespass if you go into an area on private property that is clearly marked and delineated as an area where you should not be. That delineation can be something as simple as a fence or a wall. Media organizations had requested the judiciary committee review the bill since they claimed it violated their first amendment rights.
The Committee did pass the bill and left in place language, inserted by the House Ag Committee, that makes those who falsify job applications in order to obtain employment on a farm for the purpose of photographing or videotaping that farm eligible for prosecution. “For example, if you are an undercover reporter or activist and misrepresent yourself in order to get a job on a farm so you can take videos, you can be prosecuted under this law,” said Kraft. The bill will now be voted on by the full House and, according to Kraft, is likely will pass. It will then go to a House/Senate conference committee.
Kraft admits some of the teeth have been taken out of the legislation, but overall it still protects Indiana farmers from exploitation by the media and activists, “At the end of the day, we are still confident we will have a bill that provides additional protection for Indiana agriculture from those who slip onto farms surreptitiously for the purpose of defaming or harming the operation.” Kraft suspects that when the measure goes to conference some of the teeth that have been taken out of the bill may be put back. Media organizations have dropped their opposition to the legislation, while organized labor and radical animal activist groups remain opposed.