Proposed new rights for Hoosiers: Hunt, fish farm
INDIANAPOLIS — A resolution protecting Hoosiers’ rights to hunt, fish and farm by placing it in the state’s constitution moved a step closer to being placed on a statewide ballot in 2014.
The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources committee unanimously approved the resolution Monday, which Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, said would protect the state from “outsiders who attack these two very important traditions in this state.”
Agriculture is a $8 billion industry in Indiana, Steele said, and hunters and fishermen bring $15 million a year into the state coffers through hunting and fishing licenses.
But Steele worries the ability to hunt, fish and raise animals on farms is under threat from creeping influence of animal rights organizations, specifically noting the Humane Society of the United States.
“Fishing, hunting and farming are parts of our heritage in Indiana, and all are under attack,” Steele said to the committee, “which is why I present this resolution to you.”
Farming organizations agreed with the senator, saying the amendment serves as a kind of “insurance policy” of what could happen in the future, according to Bob Kraft of the Indiana Farm Bureau.
“I don’t believe there’s an attitude among Indiana to denigrate the agriculture industry or prohibit the sale of meat,” Kraft said, “but one never knows what might be coming down the road sometime in the future.”
Hoosier Environmental Council spokeswoman Kim Ferraro said there’s no need to protect the farming industry in the constitution, just like there’s no need for lawyers, steel mills or other professions and industries to be protected. She insisted that every industry has bad actors that need to answer to criticism and regulation.
“Why would we want to give any profession or industry heightened constitutional protection?” Ferraro said.
The resolution will head to the Senate floor, then to the House before it can be placed on the ballot for November 2014.