Posts Tagged ‘ag gag’

URGENT: Kentucky #AgGag Law Meant to Keep You From Seeing Shocking “Piglet Smoothie” Investigation

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

greenisred

Source: Will Potter (Green is the New Red)

Kentucky is the latest state to consider “ag-gag” legislation, which would make it illegal to photograph animal cruelty on farms and slaughterhouses. The bill was introduced just weeks after an undercover investigation by the Humane Society exposed a Kentucky pig factory that held pigs in tiny crates and fed what NPR called “piglet smoothies”—the remains of diseased piglets—to their mothers.

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First American Citizen Arrested Under an “Ag Gag” Law Tells Her Shocking Story

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

UPDATE: At 2:10 pm EST today, April 30, Amy Meyer — the first activist to be prosecuted under Ag-Gag legislation — announced that all charges against her have been dropped.

Amy Meyers

Amy Meyer

Courtesy of Kirschner’s Korner

Amy Meyer was arrested and charged with violating Utah’s new “Ag Gag” bill that makes it illegal for citizens to record the abuse of animals in order to hide the truth about these atrocities from the American people. You can learn more about “Ag Gag” bills by listening to my recent interview with Paul Shapiro, the HSUS Vice-President of Farm Animal Protection.

Here is the shocking story of what happened outside of Dale T. Smith and Sons Meat Packing Company in Amy Meyer’s own words:

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Are those who expose animal torturers ‘terrorists’? US lawmakers think so

Monday, April 8th, 2013

auschwitz slaughterhouseby Rebecca Roache (Oxford University)

Covertly filming shocking animal abuse in the meat industry (and other industries involving animals) is a common tactic of animal welfare charities such as the Humane SocietyMercy for AnimalsAnimal Aid, and PETA. The footage is generally obtained by workers for the charities who gain employment at slaughterhouses, farms, laboratories and the like; and it has been instrumental in prosecuting abusers and applying pressure on meat producers to improve welfare standards, as the New York Times reported at the weekend.

The same article also reports a disturbing response to this practice by several US states:

They proposed or enacted bills that would make it illegal to covertly videotape livestock farms, or apply for a job at one without disclosing ties to animal rights groups. They have also drafted measures to require such videos to be given to the authorities almost immediately, which activists say would thwart any meaningful undercover investigation of large factory farms.

Those who flout such legislation may, among other things, be placed on a ‘terrorist registry’.

The New York Times mentions several reasons why meat producers object to the practice of covert filming. First, the disturbing treatment of animals depicted in the videos may actually represent ‘best practice’, and therefore should not count as mistreatment at all. Second, meat producers suspect that the true motivation in producing the videos is not to protect animals, but to persuade people not to eat meat.1Third, they complain that the videos are made available online before the company has had an opportunity to address the abusive behaviour of its employees.

This legislation is, understandably, highly controversial. Imagine if similar legislation were proposed to restrict the activities of undercover police officers, requiring them to declare their links to the police force whenever they attempted to obtain undercover employment, and to reveal any evidence gained almost immediately, thus curtailing their ability to build a case over time. Such legislation would effectively put an end to undercover police operations, and we could expect many of the worst sort of criminals to go unpunished as a result.

There are at least two important differences between these two cases, however. First, workers for animal charities are not police officers. I shall set this consideration aside, however, since it is question-begging: arguably, animal charities fulfil the sort of protective role for animals that ought to be fulfilled by public authorities, and such charities are entitled to step in to protect animals given the shortcomings in this area by those authorities. Second, unlike the police, animal charities often publicise their evidence online before it has been evaluated by the usual legal processes, and before the animal abusers or their employers have had a chance to put their case; as a result, these charities arguably act unfairly.

There is a promising way to address the shortcomings both in the practice of covertly filming animal abuse, and in the response to this practice by some US states. Animal Aid has made an absolutely compelling case for the compulsory installation of CCTV in all British slaughterhouses. (Similar campaigns are taking place in other countries, including Australia.) The same case also supports compulsory installation of CCTV in other industrial environments in which animals are at risk of mistreatment. Were this to happen, and were the relevant authorities appropriately vigilant in reviewing the resulting footage, we could hope that animal abuse would be exposed and addressed in a way that does not attract the charge of unfairness levelled at the practice of covert filming. Employers would be responsible for continuously monitoring the behaviour of their staff captured on  CCTV, thus avoiding being caught ‘on the back foot’ when abusive behaviour in their company is publicised before they have been given the chance to respond. We might also hope that the mere presence of CCTV would encourage those who earn a living by killing animals—a class of people whom one would naturally expect to be less concerned about animal welfare than the average person—to regulate their otherwise disgusting and depraved behaviour. And, the vets and public bodies responsible for monitoring and enforcing animal welfare regulation in slaughterhouses and the like would be able to do so withoutthe intimidation and bullying that currently inhibits their ability to carry out their work effectively. The CCTV method would, then, facilitate the prevention and policing of animal welfare in a fairer and more effective manner than the method of covert filming.

The CCTV method would also address concerns relating to misrepresentation of those companies and industries captured in covertly filmed footage. To recall, representatives of the meat industry complain that ‘best practice’ is unfairly presented to the public as abuse. However, if the activities of animal workers were routinely monitored via CCTV, we could expect the practice of publicising undercover footage of these activities online to fall off. That is, if animal welfare were appropriately monitored in industrial environments, animal charities would not be motivated to infiltrate these environments in order to expose their lax welfare standards. We could therefore expect public visibility of these environments to reduce, and with it the opportunities for misrepresentation.

You can support the campaign for compulsory CCTV in British slaughterhouses here.

 

1 I will address this complaint separately from the main text, since it is a confusing diversion. Copious evidence gathered by animal charities shows that animal abuse is ubiquitous in the meat industry. An effective way of helping to stop this abuse is to avoid supporting the meat industry; that is, by not eating meat. The suggestion that the desire to persuade people not to eat meat is separable from the desire to protect animals is, then, nonsensical.

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Animal rights activists in Iowa say they’ll still record farm operations despite Ag Gag

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

by Mike Wiser (Des Moines Journal)

Animal rights activists say they’ll continue to secretly record operations at Iowa farms even as they demonstrated Thursday at the Capitol against a law that makes those actions illegal.

About 30 protesters aligned with the group Mercy for Animals covered their eyes and mouths with cloth and tape to protest the passage of House File 598 by both chambers this week.

“Consumers have a right to know how their food is being produced and how animals are being treated on factory farms, so they can make informed choices,” said Vandhana Bala, an attorney and spokeswoman for the Chicago-based group. “Mercy for Animals is committed to preventing and exposing cruelty to farmed animals, so we will continue with our undercover cruelty prosecutions nationwide.”

Bala said the bill was “flawed and misdirected” legislation that sets “a dangerous precedent,” which could ultimately undermine the industry itself if questions about cleanliness in preparation are raised.

The bill says a person is guilty of “agricultural production facility fraud” if the person obtains access to the facility by false pretenses, or if the person lies on their employment application or employment agreement with the intent to commit an act not authorized by the owner.

A first-offense conviction carries a penalty of up to one year in prison and a fine ranging from $315 up to $1,875. Second or subsequent offenses are punishable by imprisonment of up to two years and a fine between $625 and $6,250. The bill also contained misdemeanor offenses for people who conspire to commit agricultural production facility fraud or who have knowledge of fraud and harbor, aid or conceal someone who violates the fraud law with intent to prevent apprehension.

“They have a cause,” said Rep. Annette Sweeney, R-Alden, who floor managed the House version of the bill. “I’d love to inform them of the all the positive things we do on our farms. If our animals aren’t happy, our industry suffers.”

The bill that was passed this week is an amended version of what the House passed last year but the Senate didn’t take up, in part, because of concerns over potential conflicts with free speech rights.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said senators worked with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office to deal with constitutional issues.

“In the end, that will be up to a court to decide,” he said. “”Pretty clearly, the House version wasn’t constitutional, and that’s why we made very significant changes to it.”

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said Thursday he’ll probably sign the bill, though he still has to thoroughly review it and will do so after his two-day visit to the Quad-Cities.

“I think so. I have to review that bill. We just got it,” he said in Davenport. “Generally speaking, I think it’s important that we protect farmers from people who are trying to illegally disrupt their operations,”

The governor said a criminal penalty is appropriate when people “lie and mislead and give people false information in order to try to disrupt the farming operations in this agricultural state.”

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Illinois Ag-Gag Bill is Dead for Now

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

by Sarah Damian (The Whistleblower)

Supporters of agricultural whistleblowers in Illinois can breathe a sigh of relief after the state’s “Ag Gag” bill was quietly tabled last week in the House Judiciary Committee. The proposed legislation criminalizes individuals who document visual or audio recordings at animal facilities (including slaughterhouses) without permission.

From the Chicago Tribune:

The bill’s opponents – who include some Illinois farmers, environmentalists and animal rights supporters – believe it prevents citizens from documenting environmental violations, protects bad actors and portrays good Illinois farmers as having something to hide. Many expressed relief that the bill will remain dormant at least until next session.

This is great news, especially after the letdown in Iowa (where a similar bill was passed) and soon-to-be Utah (only awaiting governor’s signature). GAP coalition partner Farm Sanctuary published a press release praising the removal of the bill from consideration due to “First Amendment rights, food safety, animal welfare and workers’ rights.”

Undercover video remains a crucial tool that enables whistleblowers to safely expose problems at farm operations without fear of retaliation. Pending Ag Gag bills that threaten the voice of industry insiders remain in Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Tennessee. Click here for full FIC coverage of the ongoing battle against Ag Gag legislation.

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Iowa Lawmakers to Consider ‘Ag Gag’ Legislation, Again

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Source: Wisconsin Ag Connection

A bill that would impose the nation’s toughest legislation restricting undercover operations by animal rights activists will return in the Senate as part of a procedural motion. House File 589, known as the “ag gag bill,” which would make it illegal to videotape at farms or other animal operations while undercover. Farmers say the legislation is needed to protect the state’s agricultural economy against activists who deliberately cast their operations in a negative light and continue videotaping rather than reporting abuse immediately.

According to the Des Moines Register, animal welfare officials say undercover recording is vital to protect livestock and food safety and that they must document multiple instances of abuse to show a pattern.

The House passed the bill last year but it stalled in the Senate after the Iowa attorney general’s office said the bill would most likely face constitutional challenges because of provisions that would have made it illegal to possess or distribute audio or video recordings. The U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled that films exposing animal cruelty represent the exercise of free speech.

The Senate late in last year’s session introduced a sweeping rewrite that scrapped an effort to establish new offenses of fraud to prohibit animal advocates from obtaining access to livestock facilities by false pretenses. Instead, the Senate rewrite legislation beefs up language regarding trespassing, making it a crime to enter or remain at an agricultural operation or to have a recording device at such operations without express permission.

Critics contended last year that current trespassing law already makes such activities a crime and that the Senate version also poses constitutional problems because it would require anyone who makes undercover recordings while trespassing to turn over the recordings to authorities.

The Senate will call the bill up for debate today as a procedural motion to address multiple amendments on the bill, said Eric Bakker, a Senate Democratic staff member. A debate to pass the bill is not today, he said. The Senate is currently recessed until 4:15 p.m.

The bill, if passed by the Senate with amendments, must ultimately return to the House for further consideration because of the changes made, the Des Moines Register reports.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement’s Action Fund called the bill unconstitutional and a waste of time.

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Florida “Ag Gag” Bill to be Amended in Senate

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

by Ashley Lopez (Florida Independent)

During a state Senate agriculture committee today, a measure created to stop animal rights activists from taking pictures of farming operations in Florida was asked to be amended before receiving a vote.

State Sen. Jim Norman’s omnibus agriculture bill currently has a provision that activists have nicknamed an “Ag Gag.” The measure would prevent the release of information (photos, video, etc.) obtained by “whistleblowing employees and undercover investigations.” The information, in the past, has included exposés documenting “animal abuse, unsafe working conditions, and environmental problems,” according to one group.

If passed, anyone taking pictures or recording images of “a farm or farm operation … without the prior written consent of the farm’s owner or the owner’s authorized representative” would be guilty of a crime.

As The Florida Independent’s Brett Ader previously reported, the bill had been crafted “at the behest of Wilton Simpson of Pasco County, where Simpson Farms produces 21 million eggs annually for Florida’s second-largest egg seller, Tampa Farm Service.”

During today’s committee hearing, groups such as the Florida Feed Association and a state cattle group showed their support for the bill. Norman’s representative at the hearing claimed the provisions is a way to prevent situations where activists take pictures that “mislead the public” by showing actions they say are “inhumane” but are actually “legitimate practices.”

“It is to protect, in a way, agriculture industry,” Norman’s representative said. He claimed it was a response to the media’s negative view of the industry.

But some on today’s panel questioned what exactly the bill was created to prevent.

State Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, understood that the bill was aimed at stopping misrepresentation of farm work, referring to the tactic as “making a scene.” Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, pointed out that that wrinkly is not explicitly stated in the bill. He argued that the “Ag Gag” portion of the bill was written unclearly.

Laura Bevan of the Humane Society of the United States, who testified against the bill today, agreed. She explained that the bill is ”very broad” and could have “unintended consequences.”

“There are already bills that takes care of trespassing and slander,” she said.

Bevan also argued that there are no examples of activists getting industries in trouble because of video that “misrepresents” farming.

“That has never happened,” she said. “We are basically saying that if someone is falsifying documents, there is another way of dealing with that.”

“What are we hiding?” Bevan asked the committee. “What does agriculture have to hide?  This is basically slamming the doors and saying, ‘What happens on the farm stays on the farm.’”

Due to the uncertainty of the language in the bill, Paula Dockery, R- Lakeland, asked that the “Ag Gag” portion be amended before the committee casts a vote on the bill. The committee agreed.

An unamended House version of this bill has already made its way through the House agriculture committee.

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Disclaimer: The information on this site is for educational and entertainment purposes only. There is no intent, express or implied, to promote illegal activities. We assume no liability for the potential actions of any third party. All data compiled here has been gathered from, and is available through, independent public sources.

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