It has recently come to my attention that shocking laws have passed in both Iowa and Utah this year. These laws are designed to stop whistle-blowers from going undercover in meat factories and videotaping the cruelty that happens there. In the past 20 years, probably the most essential tool used by animal rights groups to convince the public about the plight of animals has been for whistle-blowers to go into factory farms (undercover), videotape the horrors occurring in those places, and then share their recordings with the public — to make them aware of the extreme suffering and brutality caused to billions of living beings, and to show the poor standard of health in such locations (potentially posing a health risk to the public). Such documentations have been crucial in pushing people to recall contaminated foods and have been essential in make the public aware of the horrors that occur behind close doors in places like Iowa.
Understandably, corporations in places like Iowa want their doors to be shut. They want the freedom to do whatever they feel like, even if that means exploiting animals in filthy, deplorable conditions in order to maximize profit. Corporations like those in Iowa do not want transparency — they want an opaque environment free of scrutiny. They also want people who eat meat to not think about the horrors that went into making their meals. Because of this desire to be secretive about their ways, the corporations of Iowa lobbied politicians there to make a law called an ag-gag law. “Ag-gag” laws, like the one in Iowa, have one purpose: to stop undercover whistle-blowers from revealing the truth about the suffering and cruelty they inflict on animals. The lawmakers cleverly disguise the law with euphemisms, using names such as “animal enterprise interference prevention act”.
The Humane Society of the United States, Mercy For Animals, the ASPCA, PETA and Farm Sanctuary have all came out against ag-gag bills in Iowa. It is now recommended that people boycott all animal products coming from Iowa. People need to send a message to Iowa that trampling on First Amendment rights will not be tolerated in this country. People have a right to know where their food came from and what’s occurring to it. People have a right to go undercover and document the truth. The same is true for the 4 other states with “ag-gag” laws: Utah, North Dakota, Montana and Kansas.
But of those states, Iowa is probably the most important because it has very large agricultural facilities, including the nation’s largest pork producers. People need to fund politicians in Iowa who oppose the draconian new “ag-gag” law, and they need to vote out politicians like Joe Seng who authored the bill. The “ag-gag” law in Iowa MUST be repealed.
Even more shocking is that there were about 7 other states (including New York, Florida and Minnesota) where similar ag-gag bills were introduced and failed. I fear that the big agricultural corporations will keep authoring these laws in all states until they finally get their way. Unless people stop them, they will try year after year to get unconstitutional “ag-gag” laws passed in various states until they succeed.
It is amazing that instead of actually trying to solve the problem by stopping animal slaughter, the agricultural corporations are trying to cover it up by attacking the whistle-blowers (who are the true heroes in this case). It is such bull**** that the good people in Iowa (i.e. those who try to stop animal abuse via videotaping) are now being criminalized, and the real criminals (i.e. those in the meat industry) are getting away with billions of murders every year. The real criminals (the meat industry animal abusers and animal torturers) are now being protected by Iowan law thanks to the new ag-gag law, and the whistle-blowers who try to stop the animal abuse are now being punished. The law in Iowa, Utah, North Dakota, Montana and Kansas is the opposite of the way it should be.
Part of the problem is that in many states, farm animals are deliberately excluded from the state’s animal cruelty laws. State laws often say things like A person may not torture or kill an animal… farm animals and animals used for “standard farm purposes” are exempt from this law. Either that, or they’ll say A person may not torture, kill or strangulate an animal… so long as it is not a farm animal. Sometimes the law of a state will say A person may not torture or kill an animal… this law may not be construed to be used against “accepted” farm practices.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this kind of legal language is UNACCEPTABLE and never should’ve been written in the first place. It is unfair to write a law banning animal cruelty, only to conveniently exclude animals which people torture and kill for profit (i.e. the agricultural industry). See these links:
The above links are to the “consolidated animal cruelty statutes” of Indiana and Montana. They both prohibit cruelty to animals so long as it is not a farm animal undergoing “accepted farming practices”. The term “accepted farming practices” is a euphemism for “cruelly killing billions of animal who suffer miserable lives prior to their deaths”.
And it is not just Indiana and Montana that have this bad legal language — nearly every state conveniently excludes farm animals from their animal cruelty laws. This is not the way the law should be; the law should be protecting all animals from cruelty, regardless of whether they are being “farmed” or not. It is clear that the language in these laws was written by corporations or lobbyists for corporations, and do not represent the will of the public (a recent poll estimated that 71% of Americans support whistle-blowers who try to stop cruelty behind the closed doors of animal slaughter facilities).
Another issue of concern is that in about 28 states, there are “anti-ecoterrorism” acts — the term “ecoterrorism” is a scare tactic used by corporations to paint the good guys (i.e. the anti-slaughter whistle-blowers) as “terrorists”, which is complete bulls***. These bad laws also take on other monikers, such as “law to prevent interference with animal enterprise or facility”. Whatever they are called, these laws, though not as bad as the ag-gag laws, are pretty bad in their own way. By labeling the good guys (i.e. the animals rights people trying to stop abuse) as “ecoterrorists” and making laws to stop their animal advocacy, the corporations have already successfully silenced their opposition in 28 states. Now, in states like Iowa, they’re taking it a step further by unconstitutionally making it a criminal offense to videotape animal cruelty [damning evidence] happening in factory farms.
Go to the anti-ag-gag petition website and sign it: ag-gag.org
Those who are reading this should try to stop eating meat and become a vegetarian. The more vegetarians, the better, because it will mean less money in the pockets of these unethical corporations who try to trample on people’s First Amendment rights by silencing their opposition. If you have that “I’ve gotta have meat” feeling, just buy Boca or Morningstar products in your local grocery store — they are meat imitators (but not actually made of meat). Or you could try Amy’s products, which are always vegetarian. But you should really avoid meat at all costs, and you should definitely not buy any meat coming from Iowa (as a way to send a message to the corrupt politicians there that their behavior is unacceptable).
Above: pink states = states with unjust “hunter harassment” laws; dark yellow (olive) states = states with unjust “hunter harassment” laws AND unjust “interference with animal facilities” laws; red = states with unjust “hunter harassment” laws AND unjust “interference with animal facilities” laws AND unjust “Ag-Gag” laws (anti-whistle-blower laws); gray = no data
Here are some quotes relating to the atrocious, unjust, unconstitutional ag-gag laws:
“One of the best tools the animal protection movement has against factory farming is the truth, and a picture is worth a thousand words. But special interests are trying to take those tools away from activists in Iowa and Florida by trying to ban the making of undercover factory farming videos. In Iowa, H.F.589 creates the crime of “animal facility interference” for shooting a photo or video without the facility owner’s consent, and “animal facility fraud” for those who obtain employment at a farm for the purpose of shooting undercover photos and videos. […] Iowa residents can contact their state senators, and ask them to oppose H.F.589. You can find your Iowa state legislators here, along with their contact information. The Humane Society of the US recommends making a phone call first, then following up with an email. If you’re in a hurry, you can use their webform.
Bottom line? Whether or not it’s unconstitutional, these bills are wrong and dangerous because criminalizing the making of undercover videos protects the animal abusers and hides illegal activity from the public. These bills would also prohibit journalists from shooting undercover videos, and even prohibit the farms’ own employees from making undercover videos of animal cruelty, unsafe work conditions and other illegal activity.” — Doris Lin, http://animalrights.about.com/b/2011/03/23/bills-to-ban-undercover-factory-farming-videos-moving-ahead-in-iowa-and-florida.htm
“Undercover footage filmed last year at Iowa’s Sparboe Egg Farms, America’s fifth-largest egg producer, shows scenes more harrowing than a slasher flick. Workers burn the beaks off young chicks without painkillers, then toss the bloody, beakless birds into crowded pens. Other employees grab hens by their throats and shove them inside battery cages, enclosures so small the birds can’t even stretch their wings and some become mangled and disfigured by cage wires. Others are tied inside plastic bags and left to suffocate. A particularly disturbing incident shows a worker torturing a hen by swinging it around in the air while the bird’s legs are stuck in a trap.
The video was produced by a representative from animal welfare organization Mercy for Animals who took a job with Sparboe to go undercover. While the footage is tough to watch even for the most committed egg eaters, it led to positive results: McDonald’s, Target, Sam’s Club, and Supervalu—Sparboe’s biggest clients—all ended their relationships with the producer after viewing the video last November. But such changes won’t happen in Iowa anymore: Capturing this sort of footage is now illegal under the state’s newly passed “ag-gag” law—and other states are poised to follow.[…]
So if undercover farming videos are bringing about such positive change to the food system, why blow the whistle on whistleblowers? Blame Big [Agricultural groups]. Industrial farming groups like the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, Iowa Select Farms (the very same operation that was investigated by Mercy for Animals in 2011), the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, the Iowa Farm Bureau, and Monsanto heavily supported the legislation in America’s biggest hog and egg producing state. Because these Big Ag interests mean big money to Iowa, lawmakers wanted to crack down on the folks who hurt their bottom line: animal welfare advocates.
The irony is that while legislatures protect factory farms, they’ve shown far less interest in protecting defenseless animals: No federal regulations protect farm animals from cruelty, and while state regulations exist, factory farms are rarely investigated and laws are seldom enforced. That’s why forward-thinking organizations like the Humane Society of the U.S., Mercy for Animals, and Compassion Over Killing have taken it upon themselves—often at great risk to those involved—to expose the food safety and animal cruelty issues rampant at factory farms throughout the nation. Undercover farming investigations make our food system better—not just for animals, but for consumers too.” — Sarah Parsons, http://www.good.is/post/gag-order-why-states-are-banning-factory-farm-whistleblowers/
From the New York Times:
“Undercover videos showing grainy, sometimes shocking images of sick or injured livestock have become a favorite tool of animal rights organizations to expose what they consider illegal or inhumane treatment of animals. Made by animal rights advocates posing as farm workers, such videos have prompted meat recalls, slaughterhouse closings, criminal convictions of employees and apologies from corporate executives assuring that the offending images are an aberration.
In Iowa, where agriculture is a dominant force both economically and politically, such undercover investigations [are now] illegal. […] Their opponents, including national groups that oppose industrial farming practices, say these undercover investigations have been invaluable for revealing problems and are a form of whistle-blowing that should be protected. They argue that the legislation essentially hides animal abuse and food safety violations.[…]
After a 2008 investigation of an Iowa pig farm showed workers beating sows and piglets as well as bragging about the abuse, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals turned over its unedited video to law enforcement, leading to criminal convictions against workers for animal abuse, said Jeff Kerr, general counsel for the organization.[…]
The association representing egg producers helped draft legislation to ban such videos, earning support from other powerful agricultural groups in Iowa.” — A.G. Sulzberger, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/us/14video.html?_r=1
“[Iowa's new ag-gag law] criminalizes investigative journalists and animal protection advocates who take entry-level jobs at factory farms in order to document the rampant food safety and animal welfare abuses within. In recent years, these undercover videos have spurred changes in our food system by showing consumers the disturbing truth about where most of today’s meat, eggs, and dairy is produced. Undercover investigations have directly led to America’s largest meat recalls, as well as to the closure of several slaughterhouses that had egregiously cruel animal handling practices. Iowa’s Ag Gag law — along with similar bills pending in other states — illustrates just how desperate these industries are to keep this information from getting out.[…]
As a Humane Society of the United States investigator, I worked undercover at four Iowa egg farms in the winter of 2010. At each facility, I witnessed disturbing trends of extreme animal cruelty and dangerously unsanitary conditions. Millions of haggard, featherless hens languished in crowded, microwave-sized wire cages. Unable to even spread their wings, many were forced to pile atop their dead and rotting cage mates as they laid their eggs.
Every day, I came to work wearing a hidden pinhole camera, using it to film conditions as I went about my chores. Once I quit, the Humane Society released a video of my findings that showed viewers the everyday, routine conditions in modern egg factories. Although nothing I filmed was illegal (since Iowa’s anemic animal cruelty law exempts “customary farming practices”), the video was alarming enough to make national headlines.[…]
But without investigations like the ones I did in Iowa, the impetus behind this progress would be gone. At least, that’s the hope of groups like the Iowa Poultry Association and Minnesota Pork Producers, each of which helped draft the Ag Gag laws and oppose the federal hen protection bill. They and their backers at Monsanto and Dupont don’t want anything to change at all. They prefer having no rules on how they treat animals and no one from the public second-guessing what they do.
The Ag Gag laws pretend to be about preventing “fraud,” but they actually perpetuate it. They protect a system where consumers are regularly deceived into supporting egregious animal suffering, deplorable working conditions, and environmental degradation. They protect guys like Billy Jo Gregg, a dairy worker who was convicted of six counts of animal cruelty in 2010 after being caught punching, kicking, and stabbing restrained cows and calves at an Ohio farm.[…] Perhaps most egregiously, the Ag Gag laws also protect the slaughterhouses that regularly send sick and dying animals into our food supply, and would prevent some of the biggest food safety recalls in U.S. history.[…] In short, the Ag Gag laws muzzle the few people that are telling the truth about our food. With no meaningful state or federal laws to regulate industrial animal farms, they take away one of the only forms of public accountability this multi-billion dollar industry has ever faced. Now, the foxes are truly guarding the henhouse.” — Cody Carlson, http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/03/the-ag-gag-laws-hiding-factory-farm-abuses-from-public-scrutiny/254674/
“There may be many regulations, but PETA, Avella and others say enforcement is sorely lacking and that undercover investigations are essential. Cayuga County district attorney Jon Budelmann, who prosecuted Phil Niles, tells TIME that the Mercy for Animals video of the employee striking the Willet Dairy cow “was the case.” Banning undercover investigations on farms strikes him as ludicrous. Without proof, he says, authorities would have just one person’s word against another’s. ‘Without the videotape, we wouldn’t have had the admission,’ he says. It seems that down on the farm, if you see something, you have to do more than say something. You have to show something too.” — Alexandra Silver, http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2077514-2,00.html
“[Bills aim to keep Americans in the dark] — The industry has introduced “ag-gag” bills in numerous states aimed at making whistle-blowing on factory farms essentially impossible. Some of the bills would criminalize photo-taking at factory farms, while others would make it a crime for whistle-blowers to gain employment at an agricultural operation. Some would impose unreasonable and impossible reporting requirements intended to silence potential whistle-blowers. These bills aim to ban critical whistle-blowing investigations such as The HSUS’ exposés of unacceptable and callous animal cruelty at a Vermont slaughter plant leading to its closure and a felony criminal conviction—as well as our investigation of a cow slaughter plant in California which prompted the largest meat recall in U.S. history and led to a new federal regulation that banned the slaughter of adult downer cattle. These ag-gag bills raise the question, “What does animal agriculture have to hide?” — http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/campaigns/factory_farming/fact-sheets/ag_gag.html
From the Huffington Post:
“Americans overwhelmingly believe that food from our farms should be safe to eat and that farm animals should not be abused for its production. So it is disturbing that legislators in a number of states throughout the country are considering legislation known as ‘Ag-Gag’ bills that would cripple the ability of investigators to expose animal abuse and food safety concerns. Ag-Gag bills criminalize taking photos or videos on farms to expose problems, such as animal cruelty, environmental and labor violations, and other illegal or unethical behavior. Simply put, Ag-Gag legislation poses a danger to the American public — people and animals.[…]
Legislators bent on suppressing exposés through the passage of Ag-Gag legislation are not only harming animals, but putting all of us — including our children — in jeopardy by preventing our access to critical information about our food supply. They also threaten our constitutional rights by stifling dissemination of information and chipping away at our First Amendment protections.
It’s ironic when you think about it. The individuals targeted by Ag-Gag laws are not the criminals who are beating or stabbing animals (as seen on some undercover videos). Instead, the bills would punish the whistleblowers, the people who dare to lift the veil on these oft-hidden cruelties. The language in the bills varies somewhat state to state, but in many cases the penalties for exposing cruelty may be harsher than those for the actual commission of cruelty. In a number of states the proposed legislation would not only prevent the documentation of the abuse of farm animals, but also could prohibit investigations of puppy mills and dog racing.
Lawmakers who support Ag-Gag bills do so because they are accommodating the agribusiness lobby, not because it is in the interest of their constituents. In fact, a recent national poll by Lake Research Partners found that 71 percent of Americans support undercover investigative efforts to expose farm animal abuse on industrial farms.[…]
These bills represent a wholesale assault on many fundamental values shared by all people across the United States. Not only would these bills perpetuate animal abuse on industrial farms, they would also threaten workers’ rights, consumer health and safety, and the freedom of journalists, employees and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply. We call on state legislators around the nation to drop or vote against these dangerous and un-American efforts.
Ag-Gag laws are an affront to many values Americans hold dear. If you live in Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska or New York, you should be especially concerned since Ag-Gag laws are now pending in your state legislatures. Please contact your legislators to let them know that Ag-Gag laws are dangerous for people and animals.” — Ed Sayres, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ed-sayres/aggag-bills-threaten-our-_b_1370091.html
[Ag-gag laws] are troubling not only to animal protection activists, but also to those concerned with food safety, labor issues, free speech, and freedom of the press. The bills would apply equally to journalists, activists and employees. By prohibiting any type of undercover recordings, a farm’s own employees would be prohibited from attempting to record food safety violations, labor violations, sexual harrassment incidents or other illegal activity. First Amendment concerns were raised[…]
[This paragraph: Matt Rice] Legislation should focus on strengthening animal cruelty laws, not prosecuting those who blow the whistle on animal abuse… If producers truly cared about animal welfare, they would offer incentives to whistleblowers, install cameras at these facilities to expose and prevent animal abuse, and they would work to strengthen animal abuse laws to prevent animals from needless suffering.[…]
Undercover videos are important not just for educating the public, but also because they can be used as evidence in animal cruelty cases. — Doris Lin, http://animalrights.about.com/od/animallaw/a/What-Are-Ag-Gag-Laws-And-Why-Are-They-Dangerous.htm
“If the Iowa law had been in effect in California in 2008, Hallmark and Westland [an agricultural company who was targeted by whistleblowers] would have been able to go to court claiming status as victims of “animal facility tampering” for an “amount equaling three times all the actual and consequential damages” against “the person causing the damages.”
“This flawed and misdirected legislation could set a dangerous precedent nationwide by throwing shut the doors to industrial factory farms and allowing animal abuse, environmental violations, and food contamination issues to flourish undetected, unchallenged and unaddressed,” says Runkle. ”[The Iowa Ag-Gag law] is bad for consumers, who want more, not less, transparency in production of their food.” [The purpose of the law is] “to shield animal abusers from public scrutiny and prosecute investigators who dare to expose animal cruelty, environmental violations, dangerous working conditions or food safety concerns.”[…]
Animal rights organizations like HSUS and MFA – working with investigators to expose violations – could themselves be prosecuted under the new Iowa law. Runkle says passage of the ”ag-gag” law proves Iowa agriculture “has a lot to hide.” “This law is un-American and a broad government overreach. It seeks to shield animal abusers from public scrutiny and prosecute the brave whistleblowers who dare to speak out against animal cruelty, environmental pollution and corporate corruption.” The new law makes criminals out of those who dare to expose cruelty to farm animals and threatens the consumers’ right to know, according to the MFA.[…]
“The intent of [the Iowa Ag-Gag law] is simple: shield animal agribusiness from public scrutiny by punishing whistleblowers and protecting animal abusers,” wrote Pacelle. “By signing this bill into law, animal agribusiness will have unbridled and unchecked power over worker safety, public health and animal welfare.”
This year , ag-gag bills have been introduced in Utah, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Florida and New York. [Of those states, only Utah and Iowa signed them into law]
Under the new [Iowa] law, anyone making “a false statement or representation” as part of an application of employment at an animal facility could, after a first conviction, be charged with a class D felony.
To produce a record of image or sound without the owner’s permission is defined as the new crime of “animal facility interference.” — Dan Flynn, http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/03/iowa-approves-nations-first-ag-gag-law/#.UEvCVXAtcXx
“Now in Iowa, if someone captures that treatment on video, he or she can be prosecuted. Constitutional law professor Mark Kende of Drake University says this could infringe on free speech rights. It could silence any worker who sees abuse and films it. “He can be threatened, not just with being terminated, but he can be threatened with criminal prosecution,” Kende says. “So this is really an extraordinary form of anti-whistle-blowing legislation — and really troubling in that respect.” — Kathleen Masterson, http://www.npr.org/2012/03/10/148363509/ag-gag-law-blows-animal-activists-cover
Multiple states have passed what are known as “ag gag laws”, designed to penalize investigative reporters who explore conditions on industrial agriculture operations. Many of these laws focus specifically on livestock, in the wake of numerous exposés on the abuses of livestock in industrial agriculture. These laws are a significant threat to the freedom of the press, and it’s rather remarkable that they are being allowed to stand. More than that, they threaten the health and safety of consumers, in addition to making it difficult and sometimes impossible for consumers to make educated choices about the sources of their food.
The US should be in an uproar about ag-gag laws, and it’s not. That’s a telling reflection of attitudes about agriculture, and illustrates the lack of interest among many people in the US about journalism[..] Attempts to raise awareness about the issue are often met with indifference[…]
It should come as no surprise to learn that the source of the pressure behind ag gag laws is, of course, industrial agriculture. Big companies have pushed legislators heavily to pass laws limiting the freedom to report on conditions at livestock facilities, including ranches, feedlots, and slaughterhouses. With the benefit of lobbyists, they can exert pressure directly in the halls of the legislature, as well as doing so indirectly by contributing to the electoral process and deciding who gets elected. In states like Iowa, you have to be agriculture-friendly to get elected, and if you want a chance at beating the competition, you’d better be willing to toe the line on industrial agriculture so you’ll get the needed support.[…]
It’s not just about animal welfare. Industrial agriculture also trashes the environment, something that should be of grave concern even to people who aren’t concerned about the health and wellbeing of animals raised for food. Industrial farms contribute to air, water, and soil pollution, consume vast volumes of water, and destroy soil biology and animal habitat[…]
This is why investigative journalism is important: because it brings these kinds of abuses to light and confronts consumers with information about the facts behind their food. Journalists in a wide range of industries and environments spend months or years on research, often from the inside, to prepare stories intended to spark comment, discussion, and change. Ag gag laws are only one example of an attempt to limit the ability to report freely on pressing social issues, and they should be a subject of anger and horror in the population at large. Lobbyists are attempting to limit access to information, and they are doing so by limiting the abilities of journalists to do their jobs.
The anger about exposés is well-founded; consumers are usually horrified when they see images and video from livestock facilities, as well they should be. Dead and dying animals packed close together in unhealthy, dangerous conditions, some with open sores and other obvious health problems. Animals treated casually and abusively by staff members who need to work fast, and cannot afford compassion or gentleness. Horrific conditions in slaughterhouses, where terrified animals are rushed through the production line and subjected to utterly inhumane and dangerous conditions. Workers who are tired, working through overtime, obviously ill, and at high risk of injury.
That the reaction to exposés is to silence journalists, rather than addressing the poor conditions, is an inevitable consequence of capitalism. It is more cost effective to shut off the stories, rather to fix the problem, and legislators are evidently happy to go along with this plan, passing ag gag laws to ensure silence about the continued abuse of farm animals. Consumers, in turn, tolerate this because they have no idea about the nature of the news they can’t see.” — S.E. Smith, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/06/agriculture-gag-laws-press-freedom
“State Sen. Joe Seng, [author of the Iowa Ag-Gag bill], is challenging three-time incumbent U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack in the state’s Democratic primary on Tuesday for the right to represent Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District in Washington.
Unfortunately for Seng, the folks over at the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) have a very good memory, and they’re hoping Iowa Democrats do too. Just in case, they’ve been busy contacting voters to remind them of Seng’s record, and strongly encouraging primary voters to support Loebsack, whose district was recently redrawn. The legislation Seng authored, they say, “punishes whistleblowers, investigative journalists, and anyone who helps them report on problems uncovered at a factory farm.” Loebsack, on the other hand, is animal-friendly.[…]
Part of our message is to signal to candidates that there are consequences for championing ‘Ag Gag’ bills that stomp on our first amendment rights and dim the spotlight on animal cruelty,” Sara Amundson, executive director of HSLF, tells TakePart. [Update: Seng was defeated by Loebsack] — Clare Leschin-Hoar, http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/06/01/humane-society-legislative-fund-iowa-race-ag-gag
“Ag-gag bills may seek to criminalize the recording, possession or distribution of still images (photos), live images (video) and/or audio at or upon a farm, industrial agricultural operation or “animal facility.” Bills in some states seek to bar potential investigators from gaining employment on farms. As noted above, many successful animal welfare investigations have revealed severe abuses of animals and raised additional concerns about industrial farms, such as the potential contamination of eggs and meat.
[Ag-gag laws are dangerous for at least 6 reasons]: Animal Welfare — Ag-gag laws are a direct threat to animal welfare. […] Food Safety — Ag-gag laws threaten our food supply[…] Control over food choices — Ag-gag laws are a direct threat to marketplace transparency[…] Worker’s rights — This legislation often seeks to criminalize the recording of sounds or images in animal facilities, no matter the content. […] Free Speech — [Ag-Gag bills] pose serious First Amendment threats.[…] Environmental Damage — Undercover investigations offer an effective way to expose [environmental] violations, [and Ag-Gag laws seek to stop them] […]
Ag-gag laws are also troublesome because they do not reflect the public’s will. Polls consistently show that the majority of Americans favor humane treatment of farm animals.[…]
If you live in a state that has introduced an ag-gag measure, please visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center online to take action now.
Be vigilant in your state—keep an eye on the local media for any news regarding the introduction and/or progress of ag-gag bills. Talk to your friends and neighbors about why ag-gag legislation is a bad idea.” — http://www.aspca.org/ag-gag
From Iowa State Daily:
“The video is graphic and shows male chicks just hatched being put on conveyer belts, sorted from the females and tossed into grinders alive. The females are debeaked and put in crates to be shipped throughout the states. The newly passed [Iowa Ag-gag law] makes it more difficult for activists to get access undercover to make such videos. “This bill moves this out of the realm civil and into realm of criminal behavior,” Mack said. […] Individuals and groups with animals in mind, such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, are concerned.” — Randi Reeder, http://www.iowastatedaily.com/news/article_f340fa68-7132-11e1-907d-0019bb2963f4.html
“Similar bills have been introduced in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, and New York. Weeks after Iowa passed H.F. 589, Utah enacted an even harsher law to go after undercover reporting of industrial farm abuse.[…]
As the Food Integrity Campaign explains, undercover video is a vital tool for proving allegations of wrongdoing and vindicating whistleblowers. One need only recall ABC’s undercover expose into the Food Lion grocery chain’s unsanitary practices for an example of the public good these investigations can produce. Tellingly, Food Lion responded not by challenging the damaging content of the report but by accusing the undercover reporters of fraud. That case, which involved years of legal battles and court fees, had only the threat of civil penalties—these new [Ag-gag] laws come with potential jail time. The implied threat of legal action will only discourage employees who see problems from standing up to increasingly powerful agriculture business interests. [It is of ethical concern to] protect people from conditions that breed E.coli, salmonella, and unhealthy food [via undercover investigations].” — Joseph Jerome
“It is all too understandable why factory farmers would want to keep hungry eaters in the dark. Research shows that following reports exposing modern animal agriculture, general meat consumption of the public lowers for up to six months. In 2008, Hallmark Meat Packing Company of Chino, California, was shut down after undercover investigations from The Humane Society of the United States brought forth footage depicting workers beating sick cows, striking those too crippled to walk into kill pens, and even ramming animals with forklifts. This company, which recalled 143 million pounds of meat (the largest recall in history) after the USDA saw footage and deemed the meat unfit for human consumption due to lack of complete and proper inspection, was also the nation’s second largest supplier to the National School Lunch Program.[…]
The scariest part of this mess may be the meat industry’s response to the unveiling of norms at factory farms. How does the industry respond to the public slowly being educated on the inhumane and unsanitary ways in which food is raised? Do they work to reform their ways, abolishing each method that adds to the diminishment of nutrition, environmental health, and animal well-being? Nope. Instead they work as fast as they can to cover it all up. Eradicating their factory farms of the disgusting practices shown in undercover footage would mean a complete reform for the entire industry. So instead they work to build a thicker barrier between their everyday practices and public knowledge. It’s got to make you wonder, just what is the industry so desperately trying to hide? […]
The undercover investigations, which sadly are the few accurate illustrations of how our meat is produced, should be lit with a spotlight, free for all to see and learn from, not shut in the dark, covered by corporate interests. Supporters of the bills claim they are necessary for the health and safety of our farms, but if factory farms were properly regulated to be healthy and humane, then there would be no need to conceal these practices. They would welcome the mindful consumer, not criminalize his assets.
These ag-gag laws are an assault on our values and rights as Americans. They are a violation of our first amendment rights to free speech and free press, and they constitute a huge step back from our American principles. If Ag-gag bills continue to pass and make undercover investigations illegal, there is no knowing where this will end.[…] Our basic American principles hold “freedom and justice for all” above all else. Let us defend these values even in the face of large companies whose ties run deep in government. Let us exercise our right to unveil truths, which will be held as self-evident when given the opportunity to transcend. “ — Clare Edwards, intellectualyst.com/ag-gag-laws-a-violation-of-our-rights-as-consumers-and-americans/