By Kerwin Olson
Senate Bill 373, the Ag Gag bill was heard in conference committee recently and anti-consumer language was inserted back in the bill by the original Senate author Travis Holdman.
The amended language makes it a misdemeanor to video record or photograph inhumane, unsafe and unethical practices at factory farms, in industry and mining and then provide that evidence to members of the media or public.
A person would have five days to provide such evidence to authorities, and while the bill exempts the media from being subject to criminal prosecution, it still seeks to prosecute private citizens or employee whistleblowers.
The current version of the bill threatens food and worker safety, free speech, animal welfare, the public’s right to know as well as the environment. It is unnecessary and bad public policy that will protect bad operators and create an unhealthy veil of secrecy surrounding Indiana’s food production system.
Members of the public are urged to contact their State Representative and Speaker of the House Brian Bosma as well as their state senator and President Pro-tem of the Senate David Long and urge them not to support the Ag Gag Bill conference report and stop this legislation. Tell them instead of trying to shield bad actors and discourage whistleblowers, they should be working to protect the public.
To find your legislators, please go here: http://district.iga.in.gov/districtlookup/
To e-mail your legislators, visit:
The Senate switchboard is (800) 382-9467; the House switchboard is (800) 382-9842.
Kerwin Olson is executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition. Visit them online at www.citact.org.
This article originally appeared in our May 1, 2013 issue.