Your Guide to the Illegal Farm Photos Bill

factory farming – Wiki image

Editor’s Note: A couple of weeks ago, we published an article titled Big Ag Lobbies to Make it Illegal to Secretly Film Animal Abuse.  The following article gives additional details about a new version of the original bill that has been introduced, which is not as watered down as it first appears.  This is in fact a piece of legislation that will allow for animal cruelty to be swept away from the light of scrutiny by compassionate people who wish to know how their food is produced and who demand humane farming practices. Please take action and contact the senator named below and get this bill put into the waste bin where it belongs.

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

SB1246 simply called “Farms” introduced by Jim Norman-R, Tampa, FL

Original bill stated:

  • It is “an act relating to farms; prohibiting a person from entering onto a farm or photographing or video recording a farm without the owner’s written consent…”
  • In section (1)(1) trespassers on farm property would receive a first degree felony charge.
  • In s. (1)(2) any photographs or video recording without written consent (yes, even from a distance) is punishable by first degree felony charge.
  • Florida statutes define a first degree felony charge as 30 years imprisonment, possibly life, and $10,000 fine.
  • A “Farm” means any land used for agricultural production, cattle, or storage of a commodity (even junk yards).

“The New York Times called it ‘croparazzi,’ and news of the bill gained Internet buzz. But Monday [3/21/11], a heavily amended version of SB 1246 unanimously passed the Senate Agriculture Committee.” Which is why some speculate that the following changes were made to scale back the bill.

New Bill [3/21/11]:

  • Section 1.1 creates exceptions for Department of Agriculture employees, law enforcement, investigators, and inspectors.
  • The charge of first degree felony now becomes a first degree misdemeanor (one year prison, $1000 fine).
  • It also appears the crime is only committed if on the actual property without written consent. That cleared GoogleEarth but still left out greenbelt exceptions. (Would these changes really make roadside pictures and aerial photography okay by law?)
  • Section 1 (2)(a) defines “Audio or video records” as any audio or video recording, regardless of the recording medium or format, including, but not limited to, photographs, audio or videotapes, cd’s, dvd’s, or streaming media, whether stored on film stock, hard disks, solid state storage, or any electrical, magnetic, or optical or other form of data storage.

What’s the back story? Norman’s under criminal investigations?

Purported motivation behind the bill:
To protect farm operations that may be a unique component to the business. “Norman said he’s trying to protect farmers from ‘unfair outside assaults’ on their intellectual and private property rights.” There are already safeguards for that like strict trespassing and theft laws and litigation as a recourse.

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