House OKs legislation banning photo-taking in barns

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Taking aim at animal rights activists and undercover reporters, the Missouri House passed a measure Tuesday that would make it a crime to take pictures of animals in barns without an owner's permission.

The ban would apply to still or motion pictures of farm animals in barns or other areas where they are housed or pastured. Photographers could be sentenced to up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

The animal photography measure was added to a larger agriculture bill that passed the House by an announced vote of 84-33. The bill now goes back to the Senate, which on Monday night had added a similar provision to a House-passed bill.

Rep. Ken Legan, who sponsored the House amendment, said he doesn't approve of sneaky photographers on a mission to expose the supposed evils of farming.

"They'd like to come in and take pictures and say how bad it is," said Legan, R-Halfway. The animals "have never had it so good,"

Rep. Mark Abel, D-Festus, questioned whether the ban would apply to the news media or other people exposing a property's bad conditions. He also wondered if it would ban picture taking at the zoo.

"I can think of 50 examples that this would put people in jail," Abel said. Later he added, "This is just ridiculous. You don't deal with people taking photos. You deal with the trespassing."

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