By John McCarthy
The Associated Press
COLUMBUS - People who vandalize farms and their equipment, destroy farm property or cause the loss of livestock would face stiff penalties and fines if a bill now in the House becomes law.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Larry Mumper, a Marion Republican, would prohibit the destruction of crops, timber, livestock or farm equipment.
Offenders would be charged with a range of felonies, depending on the loss.
It also would require those convicted of those crimes to pay double the cost of the damage to the victim.
The Senate passed the bill 33-0, and it now is in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee
The bill is in response to reports of raids on farms by animal rights groups and others, Mumper said.
Other targets could include biotechnology and animal research centers, he said.
In November, an animal rights group claimed responsibility for setting a fire at a barn on a Pennsylvania mink farm, saying the farm was responsible for the deaths of thousands of animals.
The fire destroyed the barn, but no animals or people were harmed.
Neither Mumper nor Scott Williams, a lobbyist for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, could cite any such crimes occurring in Ohio.
Eleven states have already adopted such legislation, Williams said.
"It's not something that has become commonplace here as it has in other states."
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