August 16, 2022

Search Results for: ag gag

Judge Strikes Down Iowa Ag Gag Law

A federal judge struck down Iowa's ag gag law last week. Those laws make it illegal for animal rights advocates to go undercover to expose animal abuse at farms and puppy mills. The 2012 law was approved by Iowa lawmakers, and carried a fine of up to year in jail. ACLU legal director Rita Bettis Austen said the ruling was "an important victory for free speech." She also said that the law was an example of government using its power to protect those in power. She added, "Ag gag clearly is a violation of Iowans' First Amendment rights to free speech. It has effectively silenced advocates and ensured that animal cruelty, unsafe food safety practices, environmental hazards, and inhumane working conditions go unreported for years." The Animal Legal Defense Fund was one of the … [Read more...]

North Carolina Governor Vetoes Ag Gag Bill

The governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, has vetoed the ag-gag bill that was sent to his desk. The bill was designed to give big agriculture and factory farms a civil cause of action against anyone trying to uncover animal abuse. McCrory said in a statement, "This bill is intended to address a valid concern of our state’s businesses—how to discourage those bad actors who seek employment with the intent to engage in corporate espionage or act as an undercover investigator.  This practice is unethical and unfair to employers, and is a particular problem for our agricultural industry. It needs to be stopped. While I support the purpose of this bill, I believe it does not adequately protect or give clear guidance to honest employees who uncover criminal activity.  I am concerned that … [Read more...]

USDA Whistleblower Speaks Out Against Idaho’s Ag Gag Law

Dr. Daryl Jacobs, a USDA whistleblower from Idaho, has spoken out against that state's ag gag law, which was signed by the governor last week. He has made a statement to Food Integrity Campaign about why undercover videos are needed to protect animals and to keep the food supply safe. He said, "as a former veterinarian for the USDA, I have seen a lot of unfortunate things come out of Idaho dairy farms. Broken bones, cows sick with cancer, and loaded with antibiotics. I understand why some farms would want to keep their abuses hidden, but a few bad apples shouldn't get the benefit of a bad law. Undercover investigation is important for exposing all kinds of illegal and immoral activities, not just problems at dairy farms, and whistleblowers need video to validate and substantiate what … [Read more...]

Ag Gag Bill Signed into Law in Idaho

This week, Idaho Governor C. L. Otter signed the latest ag-gag bill into law. The law was created, promoted, and passed in retaliation to undercover videos that exposed animal abuse at Idaho's Bettencourt Dairy farm in 2012.  That video showed workers caning, beating, and sexually abusing cows. Employees were fired and prosecuted as a result of the exposure. [Warning: the video is very disturbing.] Matt Rice, the director of investigations at Mercy for Animals, said in a statement, "Governor Otter has decided to keep corrupt factory farming practices from the public. He's created a safe haven for animal abuse. These facilities that supply food to the entire country. No other industry has that kind of immunity. Not only will this ag-gag law perpetuate animal abuse, it endangers workers' … [Read more...]

Center for Food Safety Challenges Utah’s Ag Gag Law

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) is challenging Utah's so-called "ag gag" law, which criminalizes undercover investigations of factory farms. Several states have finalized these laws, which makes it a crime to video animal abuse and cruelty while undercover. Other animal welfare groups and food safety advocates are  joining CFS in challenging the law as a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Six states have these laws on the books. Center for Food Safety attorney Cristina Stella wrote, "in the absence of effective government regulation, private, undercover investigations of the kind conducted by the Plaintiffs and outlawed by Utah's 'ag gag' law fulfill the much-needed role of overseeing the safety of our food supply." Several undercover operations have resulted in food … [Read more...]

Tennessee Governor Haslam Vetoes Ag Gag Bill

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has vetoed the so-called ag gag bill that had passed the legislature in his state. That bill had been opposed by the Humane Society and other groups since it criminalizes whistleblowers who seek to expose animal abuse. Governor Haslam released a statment regarding HB 1191/SB 1248 that said in part, "our office has spent a great deal of time considering this legislation. We've had a lot of input from people on all sides of the issue. After careful consideration, I am going to veto the legislation. I have a number of concerns. First, the Attorney General says the law is constitutionally suspect. Second, it appears to repeal parts of Tennessee's Shield Law without saying so. If that is the case, it should say so. Third, there are concerns from some district … [Read more...]

Ag Gag Bill Fails in Indiana

The Indiana legislature failed to pass S.B. 373, a bill which would have criminalized whistleblowers who expose animal abuse. These so-called "ag gag" laws have been introduced and passed in several states in the past year, after exposes by groups such as the Humane Society have informed the public about animal cruelty and unsafe working conditions. The bill passed in the Senate on Friday, April 26, 2013, but when the measure was sent to the House, Democrats said that the Senate version was a "gag all" bill. Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma pulled the bill from the calendar and did not allow another vote. That evening, Senator David Long said that the Senate would not vote on "ag gag" in 2013, killing the bill. The Senate version also made it a crime for someone to text damaging … [Read more...]

Humane Society Urges Tennessee Governor to Veto Ag Gag Bill

The Humane Society of the United States is urging Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to veto that state's ag gag bill. SB 1248 would make it a crime for reputable non-profit organizations and journalists to document and expose unethical and illegal activity at horse stables and industrial agriculture facilities. The bill narrowly passed the Tennessee House. Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO, sent a letter to the governor stating that "the bill appears to be an attempt to enact a policy of covering up abuses, and keeping the public from learning of them. If it is signed into law, it may indeed backfire, and result in more public mistrust and skepticism about the workings of the Tennessee walking horse industry at a time when it is already suffering a drastic decline in popularity due to … [Read more...]

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. Jennifer 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 … [Read more...]

Center for Food Integrity Launches Ag Gag Whistleblower Initiative

The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) has launched a new initiative called See it? Stop it! It gives farm workers the tools to take action to stop animal abuse, neglect, mistreatment, and harm. The initiative is in response to so-called ag gag laws that have been passed in many agricultural-heavy states, making it a crime to video animal abuse on farms. Just this year, the Wyoming House passed an ag gag bill, and a bill was introduced in Illinois, New Hampshire, and Nebraska. These bills are opposed by animal rights groups such as the Humane Society. The Illinois bill, in fact, imposes criminal charges against anyone who complains about inhumane treatment that the Department of Agriculture finds is "false or unfounded." The bills are in response to uproars triggered by undercover videos … [Read more...]

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