Dakota Rural Action has sounded the alarm on House Bill 1048, which appears to take away important due process protections that South Dakota farmers have against unwarranted search and seizure of their property by Monsanto and other litigious Big Ag giants.
Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-4/Big Stone City) reports that the state Department of Agriculture says it is listening to our concerns about House Bill 1048:
The issues are covered by criminal trespass statutes under SDCL 22-35. However, I will tell you we are internally meeting on this very issue and are considering an amendment to remove those section from consideration based on some constituent concerns. I will keep you informed.
Courtney L. De La Rosa
General Counsel/Director of Ag Policy
South Dakota Department of Agriculture
Joe Foss Building - 523 E. Capitol
Pierre, SD 57501
The Department of Ag is mistaken when it says our criminal trespass statutes make redundant the statutes repealed by HB 1048. SDCL 38-1-44 through 38-1-50 don't just tell Monsanto it can't trespass on your land. Those statutes make clear to farmers the rights they have in dealing with Big Ag investigators who are out to haul them into court for alleged biotech patent violations. They make clear that such investigators must obtain permission to collect samples. They allow the farmer to petition for a third party appointed by the Department of Agriculture to take any crop samples, at the patent holder's expense. They ensure that a patent holder cannot threaten a farmer with a protection order that would stop him from harvesting his crop. They authorize the Department of Agriculture to establish sampling protocols. And they ensure that the farmers promptly get to see the sample results, a vital bit of information sharing if the farmer has to defend himself from a Monsanto lawsuit.
Perhaps Ms. De La Rosa can exercise some legal legerdemain to demonstrate how our criminal trespass statutes provide any of the above protections for our farmers. But it would probably just be easier to send a memo to Senate Ag and Natural Resources to strike Sections 4 through 10 of HB 1048.