Activists are sounding alarms over a Pennsylvania House proposal that hasn’t seen much action to date.
The measure would make it a felony to take photos, as well as audio or video recordings of a farm.
Rep. Gary Haluska, R-Cambria, says the idea for the legislation came from farmers in his district who are concerned about people trying to record or photograph their farm operations in an unflattering light.
“Sometimes you can take some things out of context, if you have a sick animal or something or if you have to (kill) an animal, which is just a normal part of doing business in the farming community, and sometimes it gets trumped up,” he said.
Haluska says his bill is meant to protect family-owned farms, rather than large, corporate ones, but his legislation doesn’t distinguish between the two.
Environmentalists have suggested it would protect more than farmers — they claim energy companies, too, could be protected from would-be documentarians, since drilling sometimes takes place on agricultural land.
“Even if it’s a farm and you lease it out to a gas company, that’s commercial, that’s no longer farming,” Haluska said. “So it wouldn’t have anything to do with the gas drilling industry.”
The bill has been referred to a House committee.