weigh laws that would make it an act of terrorism to report abuses at factory
do you keep consumers in the dark about the horrors of factory farms? By
making it an "act of terrorism" for anyone to investigate animal
cruelty, food safety or environmental violations on the corporate-controlled
farms that produce the bulk of our meat, eggs and dairy products.
who better to write the Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act, http://www.greenisthenewred.com
designed to protect Big Ag and Big Energy, than the lawyers on the Energy,
Environment and Agriculture Task Force at the corporate-funded and infamous
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).http://alecexposed.org/wiki/Environment,_Energy,_and_Agriculture
Hampshire, Wyoming and Nebraska are the latest states to introduce Ag-Gag
laws aimed at preventing employees, journalists or activists from exposing
illegal or unethical practices on factory farms. http://alecexposed.org/wiki/Environment,_Energy,_and_Agriculture
Lawmakers in 10 other states introduced similar bills in 2011-2012. The
laws passed in three of those states: Missouri, Iowa and Utah. But consumer
and animal-welfare activists prevented the laws from passing in Florida,
Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York and Tennessee.
six states now have Ag-Gag laws, including North Dakota, Montana and Kansas,
all of which passed the laws in 1990-1991, before the term "Ag-Gag"
laws passed 20 years ago were focused more on deterring people from destroying
property, or from either stealing animals or setting them free. Today's
ALEC-inspired bills take direct aim at anyone who tries to expose horrific
acts of animal cruelty, dangerous animal-handling practices that might lead
to food safety issues, or blatant disregard for environmental laws designed
to protect waterways from animal waste runoff. In the past, most of those
exposes have resulted from undercover investigations of exactly the type
Big Ag wants to make illegal.
HB 0126 http://openstates.org/nh/bills/2013/HB110/
is the perfect example of a direct link between an undercover investigation
of a factory farm and the introduction of an Ag-Gag law. The bill was introduced
mere weeks after nine factory workers at Wheatland-WY-based Wyoming Premium
Farms, a supplier to Tyson Foods, were charged http://www.humanesociety.org
animal cruelty following an undercover investigation by the Humane Society
of the United States (HSUS). HSUS activists videotaped workers kicking live
piglets, swinging them by their hind legs and beating and kicking mother
pigs. Charges were filed in late December. In January, State Rep. Sue Wallis
and Senator Ogden Driskill introduced Wyoming's Ag-Gag bill which would
make it a criminal act to carry out investigations such as the one that
exposed the cruelty at Wyoming Premium Farms.
and Driskill both have ties to Big Ag. Wallis was the subject of a conflict-of-interest
complaint filed in 2010 by animal welfare groups. The groups accused http://www.examiner.com
of improper and fraudulent abuse of her position as a legislator after she
introduced a bill allowing the Wyoming Livestock Board to send stray horses
to slaughter. At the time she introduced the bill, Wallis also was planning
to develop a family-owned horse slaughter plant in the state. Both Wallis
and Driskill are members of the Wyoming Stockgrowers Association. Driskill
has accepted political contributions http://influenceexplorer.com
from the livestock industry and Exxon Mobil, a member of ALEC.
of the Ag-Gag laws introduced since 2011 borrow the premise, if not the
exact language, from model legislation designed by ALEC. ALEC's sole purpose
is to write model legislation that protects corporate profits. Industry
then pushes state legislators to adapt the bills for their states and push
them through. The idea behind the Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act http://www.greenisthenewred.com
is to make it illegal to "enter an animal or research facility to take
pictures by photograph, video camera, or other or other means with the intent
to commit criminal activities or defame the facility or its owner."
words, these laws turn journalists and the investigators of crimes into
of the legislators involved in ramming through state Ag-Gag bills have ties
to ALEC, including Missouri's Rep. Casey Guernsey. Guernsey's top donor
in 2010 was Smithfield Foods, itself a target of undercover investigations
that exposed widespread abuse of pigs. Of the 60 Iowa lawmakers http://www.greenisthenewred.com
voted for Iowa's Ag-Gag laws, at least 14 of them, or 23%, are members of
ALEC's interest in large-scale factory farm operations, or in industry-speak,
Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), can be traced to one of its
staunchest members, Koch Industries. Koch Industries once owned the Koch
Beef Company, one of the largest cattle feeders in the U.S. When neighbors
of one of the company's huge cattle-feeding operations opposed a planned
expansion, claiming it would pose health concerns, Koch persuaded local
legislators to rule in its favor. ALEC subsequently wrote the "Right
to Farm Act," http://alecexposed.org/wiki/Environment,_Energy,_and_Agriculture
a bill to bar lawsuits by citizens claiming that neighboring farms, including
industrial farms, are fouling their air and water.
bills a threat to animals, public health and the environment
U.S. laws, farm animals don't get the same protection as other animals,
such as dogs and cats. Anti-free speech Ag-Gag bills only serve to leave
farm animals even more vulnerable to the routine pain and suffering on factory
farms. The three federal statutes that address animal welfare, including
the U.S. Animal Welfare Act, do not apply to animals raised for food. The
Humane Methods of Slaughter Act regulates animals raised for food, but applies
exclusively to slaughterhouses, where animals may spend only a short time
before they are killed. That leaves the states to regulate the often-barbarous
treatment of animals raised for food. But as we've seen with the Ag-Gag
bills, state laws often are written by big corporations. Nowhere is that
more obvious than in states where cruel methods of treating animals are
exempted from state laws on the basis of their being classified as "customary."
Who decides http://yulr.org
a certain practice is "customary" even if most thinking people
would consider that practice cruel? Corporations that own and operate CAFOs
in that state.
from the obvious ethical concerns, Ag-Gag laws also threaten public health
and the environment, and undermine workers' rights and free speech laws.
Undercover investigations at factory farms have exposed the mishandling
of meat, eggs and milk in ways that could potentially lead to health risks
including mad cow disease, salmonella, e-coli and others. http://www.humanesociety.org
in Chino, Calif., revealed widespread mistreatment of "downed"
cows - cows that are too sick or injured to walk. The facility is the second-largest
supplier of beef to USDA's Commodity Procurement Branch, which distributes
the beef to the National School Lunch Program.
bills also keep employees and others from blowing the whistle on environmental
violations. Huge amounts of waste are generated by the billions of cows,
pigs and chickens on factory farms. Much of that waste, full of antibiotics,
growth promoters and synthetic hormones, finds its way into our waterways
and municipal water supplies. State and federal laws require CAFOs to minimize
their environmental damage, but the laws are often not enforced. One of
the ways to expose violations is through undercover investigations.
then there's the matter of free speech. The American Civil Liberties Union
has been an outspoken opponent of Ag-Gag bills. In a letter http://nhclu.org
opposing the proposed Ag-Gag law in New Hampshire, the executive director
of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union wrote that the proposed law "has
serious implications for two fundamental rights protected by the U.S. and
New Hampshire constitutions: the right to freedom of expression and the
right against self-incrimination."
still time to stop Ag-Gag laws in New Hampshire, Wyoming and Nebraska
majority of Americans see Ag-Gag laws for what they are: just another attack
on consumers' right to know. According to a poll http://www.aspca.org/Pressroom/press-releases/021712
conducted last year by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals (ASPCA), 71% of Americans oppose the laws. When consumers learn
that 99% of the animals raised for food are raised in factory farms, they
generally agree that lawmakers should focus on strengthening animal cruelty
laws, not prosecuting the whistleblowers.
public outrage that killed proposed bills in seven states last year. Here
are the three latest bills to be introduced, and links to petitions telling
lawmakers in New Hampshire, Wyoming and Nebraska to reject the proposed
Hampshire: HB110 http://openstates.org/nh/bills/2013/HB110/
sponsor: Bob Haefner (R) ; Co-sponsors: Majority Leader Steve Shurtleff
(D), Rep. Tara Sad (D), Senator Sharon Carson (R), and Bob Odell (R)
is a 7-line bill written to look as if its main concern is the protection
of animals. However the bill would require whistleblowers to report animal
abuse and turn over videotapes, photographs and documents within 24 hours
or face prosecution - a clear attempt to intimidate and deter people from
conducting undercover investigations. Lawmakers know that in order for anyone
to prove a pattern of abuse in factory farms, they must document repeated
instances of cruelty. A video or photograph of only one instance will be
dismissed as a one-time anomaly, which will get the agribusiness company
off the hook.
the petition http://www.organicconsumers.org/ocaactions.cfm?actionnum=9290
to stop New Hampshire's AG-GAG bill.
Rep. Sue Wallis (R), Sen. Ogden Driskill (R)
within weeks after nine workers at a Wyoming factory farm were charged with
abuse. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Sue Wallis, is planning to build horse slaughterhouses
in Wyoming and other states. If this bill had been law in 2012, it would
have prevented activists from exposing horrific acts of cruelty at Wheatland-WY-based
Wyoming Premium Farms, a supplier to Tyson Foods. http://www.humanesociety.org
the petition http://www.organicconsumers.org/ocaactions.cfm?actionnum=9287
to stop Wyoming's AG-GAG bill.
LB 204 http://openstates.org/ne/bills/103/LB204/
by Sen. Tyson Larson (R), Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh (R), and Sen. Ken Schilz
bill would make it a Class IV felony for any person to obtain employment
at an animal facility with the broadly defined "intent to disrupt the
normal operations," It would require animal abuse reports to be filed
within 12 hours. Co-sponsor Sen. Launtenbaugh has advocated in the past
for horse slaughtering.
the petition http://www.organicconsumers.org/ocaactions.cfm?actionnum=9289
to stop Nebraska's AG-GAG bill.