Monday, March 25, 2013

Debate Over Indiana "Ag Gag" Bill: What Does SB373 Really Mean?

There has been a lot of press in Indiana lately about Senate Bill 373.  SB373 attempts to prevent undercover filming or photographing on farms, done without the farmer's permission and with the intent to harm farming operations.  Farm industry groups have lined up to support the bill.  Bob Kraft at Indiana Farm Bureau explained that the bill seeks to stop vigilante practices used to denigrate Indiana’s livestock industry.  Animal rights groups and some environmental groups have lined up to oppose it, calling it an "ag gag" bill.  Even Bob Barker--of Price is Right fame--interjected himself into the debate by sending a letter in opposition to the bill.  (And no, the bill does not prevent anyone from spaying or neutering their pets).  PETA said the bill would "make it illegal to film on factory farms."  Putting aside the debate, here are some facts about the bill:

Monday, March 11, 2013

What I Heard While Visiting the Environmental Working Group

In my experience, most farmers are skeptical of environmentalists.  Many environmental groups deserve this reaction, in my opinion, because some exhibit a self-righteous quality that is insulting to someone whose livelihood depends on the long-term sustainability of his or her land.  How can someone in an office in Washington, D.C. understand land management better than someone who has spent his or her entire life managing the field outside their kitchen window?  This tension recently came to light when I, together with my Indiana Agricultural Leadership classmates, visited the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in Washington, D.C.  Here are some of the ideas I heard (italics are my paraphrasing of EWG):

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Farm Policy Predictions After a Week in D.C.

I spent this past week in Washington, D.C., with the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program.  We met with Senators, Congressmen, farm industry and environmental lobbyists, and executive agency officials. Though this was not my first visit to D.C., the past week was eye-opening for a number of reasons.  There were a few recurring themes I heard over and over this week I thought I would share.