Celebrities lobbying state lawmakers on Indiana farm bill

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INDIANAPOLIS – A famous rock star and former game show host are calling on Indiana legislators to stop a measure banning undercover videotaping on Indiana farms.

Tony Kanal of the rock band No Doubt and Price is Right host Bob Barker have both written letters to House Speaker Brian Bosma about Senate Bill 373, which could soon be under consideration in the House after being passed by the Senate last month.

Kanal, who spent part of his childhood in Indiana, wrote: “I hope you’ll stop this bill and protect our right to bear witness to these abuses. This bill could prevent inside whistleblowers from collecting evidence of systematic, routine, and inherent abuses on farms.”

“Americans today want better treatment of animals killed for food, not for their legislators to hide illegal cruelty on farms behind locked doors,” wrote Barker in his letter to the speaker.

The pushback from Barker met strong reaction from the bill’s supporters.

“I don’t know that Bob Barker or a rock star based in California is particularly knowledgeable about the ins and outs of Indiana agriculture, but they are representing themselves as such,” said Bob Kraft, director of state government relations for Indiana Farm Bureau.

“I watched Bob Barker doing the Price is Right for many years, and I never told him how to operate,” said farmer and state Rep. Bill Friend, R-Macy, one of the bill’s sponsors. “So I would suggest he let me operate my business in the proper fashion, as a professional and as an individual who cares for his animals.”

“This is an example of big government stepping on people’s first amendment rights,” said state Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, who opposed the bill in the Senate.

Still, supporters of the bill don’t see it the same way – they feel the undercover videos in question are often taken out of context.

“They’re misleading,” Kraft said. “They display things that are maybe acceptable animal husbandry practices, but can be portrayed as looking bad to a public that doesn’t understand what’s going on.”

“It would be very difficult to prosecute, it would also be very difficult to defend, and I am sure this is unconstitutional,” said Stoops. “I’m hoping this bill will just be pulled, and we’ll be done with it.”

The bill’s author, state Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, issued this statement Wednesday:

“This legislation is designed to protect the right to privacy on one’s own property. The average homeowner wouldn’t want people publicly sharing photos or videos of the inside of their home to try to defame their reputation, and farmers and business owners are no different. Because these businesses are frequent targets of harassment by activists, we’re extending protection to these operations. In the case that illegal activity is taking place at these operations, SB 373 would provide honest whistleblowers with a defense if they report the violations to law enforcement or a regulatory agency. This protects those who are acting in good faith and alerting the appropriate authorities to any questionable practices.”

That exception would apply if the abuse is reported within a 48-hour period.

“To me, if it’s an illegal act, does that somehow make it not illegal after 48 hours?” asked Stoops.

“If anything, it would encourage more prompt reporting of events such as this,” said Kraft. “If you’re talking about an animal being mistreated, 48 hours is a long time. To wait any longer would really be a disservice to the animal.”

PETA officials told Fox59 they think there need to be more cameras on farms, not fewer.

The bill has yet to be assigned to a committee in the House.

17 comments

  • Margie Frankln

    Who will protect the animals on these properties when they are being abused? Who will help them? I say why is it a problem if they have nothing to hide? I just wish I could be around when Karma comes looking for these worthless scums that call themselves human beings. Just like other animal facilities that abuse animals!!

    • 'Thor'

      Not to worry Margie, we let our cattle roam the fields and have access to the barn and when we want to fill the freezer a 22 long rifle to the head before we butcher.

  • 'Thor'

    It is really a shame when the goofballs care more about non-sentient animals then they do the slaughter of kids yet to be born and who cares what Hollywierd thinks? Talk about stupid people, please.

    • Jessica

      Who says that we animal lovers only care about animals? It *is* possible to care about more than one cause.

      • Joel Kerr

        Thor, you are not worth any more of my time, but one final comment. I literally know hundreds of activists, and there are no higher percentage "goofballs" than the general population. We are professionals, attorneys, doctors, factory workers, intelletctuals, hair stylists, etc. They are some of the most compassionate, thoughtful, smart people I've ever met.

        The last comment (and others) shows that you truly are speaking about things you are not well educated about. I'm not sure why you are trolling on here, but you are clearly outnumbered.

      • 'Thor'

        If you think an animal has the same "rights" as a person=goofballs. Enough said.
        Oh YOUR the one that said 98% comes from places where "abuse" takes place=goofball.

  • Ann Gavan

    As an Indiana farmer who raises animals I was personally out raged by the video that was shown with this news report. In no instants could that behavior be called anything but abuse and cruelty. No person should ever be punished or ignored for telling or showing the truth EVER. Most family farmers care for there animals, but when you have mass production of animals by big corporate farms the care and husbandry is lost in the quest for profit over all else. Just my opinion. Let there be oversight.

  • Joel Kerr

    Thank you Ann. I grew up on a farm as well, and I know most people would be horrified about where 98% of all meat comes from. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Thor, no one wants animals to be abused, you are on a very lonely island right now.

    Senator Holdman thinks this is like someone coming into your house and taking pictures. He keeps using this ridiculous comparison. I don't remember when was the last time I cut the teeth and testicles off pigs with no anesthesia in my house.

    There are laws against trespassing, vandalism, defamation, etc that can protect property owners. The ONLY reason they don't want cameras is they are afraid of what the public will think of them if they see what's going on. Of course the pork producers and others don't want you to see behind closed doors.

  • Joel Kerr

    Another thing to stress…. EVERY time an undercover investigation has been done, abuse is found. Yet rather than fixing the abuses, these farms are lining the campaign pockets of lawmakers to try to hide the abuse from the public. We should be asking them why they won't just do the right thing and not abuse animals.

    I haven't even started on the 1st Ammendment rights that will be violated with the passage of this bill.

    Please everyone, continue speaking out against this useless, dangerous, awful bill.

    • 'Thor'

      The funny part of this is that in the wild the animals are far more vicious to each other. Maybe they just need counseling. LOL

  • Captain America

    The sad thing is there are so many people like Thor who are too ignorant to understand the importance of oversight and transparency in our food chain. Try to debate someone like Thor and they will come up with every reason under the sun not to prevent abuse by citing totally unrelated examples.

    • 'Thor'

      You say ignorance, I say common sense. City folks cannot possibly understand the need of good husbandry skills and this applies to edible plants as well as animals. In both cases "abuse" is the worst enemy and costs the producer far more money when a healthy stock (plants and animals) brings in the greatest revenue. But you, and others, can't understand. It must be a miracle that we survived from the food we ate 20+ years ago. Please.

      Cap, nice try at deflection of the vicious actions of PETA. Like I said, some are too far gone to allow for common sense to prevail.

    • 'Thor'

      Cap. look at it this way. There is "abuse" that goes on in the home. By your reasoning we should put cameras in "every" home to make sure you and others don't "abuse" their families. Sound good? In your twisted way of thinking this "must" also be done.
      "What a maroon" Bugs Bunny

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