The Oregon Senate voted unanimously to repeal the crime of unlawfully hauling hay on March 7, largely because the misdemeanor is no longer feasible to commit.
The law was deemed necessary at a time when most hay bales weighed 75 to 90 pounds and could easily be stolen from a field.
Under the statute, it was illegal to transport more than 20 bales of hay without a certificate from the crop’s producer.
The Oregon Farm Bureau urged lawmakers to repeal the law because bales are now so heavy that they require machinery to move, rendering theft less practicable.
Despite its obscurity, a couple of farmers were recently pulled over on suspicion of violating the statute, which spurred the proposal to repeal the statute, said Jonathan Sandau, government affairs specialist for the group.
“Today most of the bales are 1,000 pounds. It’s much more difficult to throw them in the back of a pickup,” said Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, in urging a vote for Senate Bill 509, which repealed the statute.
Stealing hay would remain a crime if SB 509 is enacted.
While the proposal was being considered on the Senate floor, Sen. Shemia Fagan, D-Portland, said she heard of only one objection to the bill but it was a “straw man” argument.
Sen. Dennis Linthicum, R-Klamath Falls, said he may have a conflict of interest in voting for the bill because he’s violated the law many times, albeit unknowingly.