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March 1, 2013
Volume 13
Issue 13
There were no visits this week due to the legislative calendar.
The following Statehouse visits are scheduled for next week.
Monday, March 4 – Floyd County
Tuesday, March 5 – Benton, Clark, Franklin, Jennings and Marion counties.
Wednesday, March 6 – Allen, Harrison, Henry, LaGrange and Ripley counties.
Thursday, March 7 – Elkhart County Young Farmers.           

This past week marked the end of the first phase of the 2013 legislative session. Monday was the last day for bills that were introduced in the House of Representatives to pass the House; Tuesday was the corresponding deadline for the Senate. A total of 388 bills, 175 House bills and 213 Senate bills, now move to the other side of the Statehouse for further consideration. One Senate bill, SB 319, has passed both houses and was signed into law by Gov. Pence this week.

Next week House and Senate committees will begin to hear testimony on the bills that originated in the other house. This process will start relatively quietly as committee chairs review the bills that have been assigned to their committees and determine which to hear.

GOVERNOR SIGNS SOIL PRODUCTIVITY BILL  The first bill signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence was SEA 319, the Farm Bureau-supported bill that delays for another year the soil productivity factors proposed in 2012 by the Department of Local Government Finance. Joining the governor for the signing ceremony in his office were the bill’s author, Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg); its co-author, Sen. Greg Walker (R-Columbus); and its House sponsors, Reps. Don Lehe (R-Brookston) and Bob Cherry (R-Greenfield). Also attending were Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann, who is also Indiana’s secretary of agriculture & rural affairs, and Gina Sheets, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. John Baugh represented the Purdue College of Agriculture, which is given some specific responsibilities in the bill, and representing Farm Bureau were Katrina Hall, Megan Ritter, Bob Kraft and Vice President Randy Kron.

SENATE PASSES SB 373  On Tuesday, the Senate passed SB 373, the bill introduced by Sen. Travis Holdman that makes photographing, videotaping or otherwise recording an agricultural or industrial operation without the owner’s consent illegal. The bill, which Farm Bureau supported, became the focus of intense opposition from a number of organizations. Most vocal was the Humane Society of the United States, which claimed the bill would impair its ability to reveal animal cruelty and an unhealthy food supply. Other opponents included organized labor, who argued the bill would stifle whistleblowers from reporting unsafe conditions in the workplace, and print and broadcast media who felt the bill was hostile to a free press. Farm Bureau was joined by the Indiana Manufacturers Association, the Indiana Pork Producers and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Monday evening, Farm Bureau issued an action alert asking members to contact their senators and urge their support of SB 373. The Farm Bureau lobby team thanks all Farm Bureau members who made these important contacts. The final vote on the bill was 30-20, with seven Republicans joining the 13 Democrats in voting against it.

Prior to the vote on Tuesday, Farm Bureau’s Bob Kraft sent the following message to all members of the Senate:

On behalf of the members of Indiana Farm Bureau, I ask that you vote in favor of SB 373 when it is presented on third reading later today. 

SB 373 is a simple bill that would make it an infraction to record an industrial or agricultural operation without the consent of its owner or operator for the purpose of defaming or harming the operation. The bill was amended on second reading to provide an exception for an individual who suspects a law, a rule or a regulation is being violated and makes a recording for the purpose of documenting the suspect activity or condition to appropriate law enforcement or regulatory authorities within 48 hours. 

We understand that there are those in the state who are adamantly opposed to modern agriculture and meat production. We also understand that these interests have orchestrated a coordinated effort to persuade you that SB 373 somehow encourages the mistreatment of farm animals. That is not the intent or purpose – nor will it be the consequence – of the bill.

Indiana Farm Bureau and our members whose livelihood depends upon livestock production do not condone the mistreatment or neglect of farm animals. Quite to the contrary, farmers genuinely care for their animals, they know that healthy animals are more productive and they recognize the importance of maintaining a solid reputation of caring for their animals.

Accordingly, Indiana’s livestock industry welcomes efforts to identify those few producers who might be characterized as “bad actors.” However, these rare situations should be addressed by the appropriate law enforcement or regulatory agency. SB 373 recognizes and provides for this by establishing an exception for those individuals who report a suspected activity to those authorities in a timely manner. Those who oppose SB 373 see it as a threat to their continued reliance upon vigilante practices to denigrate Indiana’s livestock industry.

Indiana Farm Bureau respectfully asks that you vote AYE on SB 373 today.

INDIANA PONDERS SEQUESTER IMPACT  As Congress continues to flounder in its efforts to address the scheduled cuts in the federal budget known as “sequestration,” Indiana and other states struggle to develop a reaction to the loss of federal funds. There is uncertainty which federal programs will be cut, how severe those cuts will be, and when and where exactly those cuts will occur. This week, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development announced that, because of the federal sequestration, it would not issue extended unemployment checks for some out-of-work Hoosiers. Later in the week that decision was reversed because the U.S. Department of Labor advised the state that money for extended unemployment benefits would be made available.

AG DAY CELEBRATION AT THE STATEHOUSE  Indiana’s Family of Farmers, a coalition of ag groups that includes IFB, will be celebrating Ag Day at the Statehouse on March 5 with a special program including Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and a luncheon reception for ag leaders and legislators. Food will be provided by six Indianapolis-based food trucks and will feature locally sourced products. Winners of the third annual Ag Day Essay contest, which is conducted in partnership with Indiana Humanities, will also be announced. Booths and information tables representing coalition members will be set up in the north atrium area. 



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