Farm theft bill passes with amendments

(PNC graphic by Ricky De Guzman)

The legislature passed Senator Clynt Ridgell’s agriculture theft bill Friday afternoon.

Earlier, on Wednesday, the legislature passed two amendments to Bill 62.

One amendment would allow authorities to confiscate any equipment used in the theft of agricultural products.

That includes any vehicle used to transport the stolen goods.

The other amendment would allow the court to auction the confiscated property.

Bill 62 is the bill that clarifies the law to make theft of agricultural products illegal.

The current language of the law has made it difficult for farmers to press charges against thieves.

Senator Ridgell discussed the bill in an interview with NewsTalk K57’s Pauly Suba.

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“What I heard before, from some people, some farmers, is that sometimes they would call and they would get authorities involved and the only thing the person would really get stuck with, is trespassing, and not so much the theft of the property. We just want to make it explicitly clear, so there’s not doubt, that agricultural products are property, so we spell it out in the law,” Ridgell said.

The bill was placed in the voting file and it was passed by senators during session Friday afternoon.

A public hearing will be held next Wednesday for Ridgell’s other bill — Bill 63.

That’s the bill to create a farmers’ registry to prevent businesses and government from buying stolen produce.