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photographing farms illegal.

A lawmaker in Florida actually tried to pass a bill that would make photographing a farm a felony. Yes, you read that right. Taking a picture of a farm, even from a public road. This is absolutely ridiculous to me, especially considering photographing farm land is something I love.

Via the Florida Tribune:

SB 1246 by Sen. Jim Norman, R-Tampa, would make it a first-degree felony to photograph a farm without first obtaining written permission from the owner. A farm is defined as any land “cultivated for the purpose of agricultural production, the raising and breeding of domestic animals of the storage of a commodity”

Media law experts say the ban would violate freedoms protected in the U. S. Constitution. But Wilton Simpson, a farmer who lives in Norman’s district, said the bill is needed to protect the property rights of farmers and the “intellectual property” involving farm operations.

Surprisingly, The Florida Senate Committee on Agriculture did approve the bill, but with some significant tweaks. For one, it will only be illegal if the photographer was trespassing, and two, it will be a misdemeanor, not a felony. Now, I understand the premise of this bill was in response to activists disguising themselves as farm workers and filming the horrific conditions at many farms that process and raise livestock. However, Tom Laskawy put it best (via TreeHugger)

This is about the tendency in the food industry and, sadly, to believe that transparency and knowledge are the enemy of a functioning food system. People must not know how animals are slaughtered and processed. People must not know the nature and safety of all the chemicals involved in agricultural and food production and processing. People must not know if food is genetically modified. This belief now appears to undergird the very logic of the American industrial food system.

I just wonder where these ridiculous laws will ever end. How do laws like this get passed with so much public disagreement?

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