September 23, 2018

California’s Ag Gag Bill Pulled by Author

The Humane Society of the United States is announcing that the California anti-whistleblower “ag gag” legislation, AB 343, that was backed by the California Cattlemen’s Association, was pulled by the bill’s author. Assembly member Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) pulled the bill after widespread opposition by food safety, environmental, and animal rights organizations. Labor unions and first amendment organizations also opposed the bill.

Chickens in CagesJennifer Fearing, California state director for the HSUS said, “We are pleased to see the bill shelved. The problem isn’t the rate at which animal cruelty is disclosed to authorities – but with the rampant cruelty itself. Industrial farming operations should be run so well that videos could never capture anything they wouldn’t want their customers to see.”

AB 343 would have obstructed whistleblowers’ ability to expose illegal and inhumane activity on agribusiness operations by forcing them to turn over documented evidence within 120 hours of beginning an investigation. Groups that opposed the legislation included Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Compassion in World Farming, Farm Sanctuary, Food & Water Watch, Mercy for Animals, Organic Consumers Organization, Sierra Club California, Slow Food USA Governor, and the Whistleblower Support Fund.

In the past, videos shot by Humane Society volunteers prompted the largest meat recall in U.S. history after a dairy cow slaughter plant in Chino, California showed horrific abuse. Workers were documented kicking cows, jamming them in the eyes, and torturing them with a hose and water to try to force downer cows to walk to slaughter. Beef from that plant was used in school lunches. Another investigation showed calf abuse at a Vermont slaughter plant led to the plant’s closure.

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