May 21, 2019

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...]

Tyson Foods Drops Farm Caught Abusing Animals

Tyson Foods has severed a contract with West Coast Farms in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma after Mercy for Animals filmed employees hitting, kicking, and throwing animals, sticking fingers in their eyes, and leaving piglets to die after being abused. One employee threw a bowling ball at an animal. The company is taking possession of the animals on the farm. The National Pork Producers Council said the abuses "violate the high standards of the U.S. pork industry." and said that authorities should investigate these incidents and bring charges against anyone who abused animals at this facility. The employees in the video have been fired by the farmer, who expressed outrage at his employees actions. But the undercover worker who filmed the video said he reported abuse to the owner three separate … [Read more...]

Humane Society Says Ag-Gag Bills Hide Animal Cruelty

The Humane Society of the United States is asking consumers to sign their pledge to fight anti-whistleblower "ag-gag" bills being passed in states around the country. These bills are often sponsored by the agricultural industry, and try to criminalize undercover investigations that have exposed animal cruelty and food safety violations in the past. The pledge asks people to share information with family and friends about this issue. This year, eleven states have tried to pass these laws that make it a crime to report a crime; they were defeated in legislatures or vetoed by governors in all states. Since 1990, six states, including Iowa, Montana, and Kansas have adopted these laws. Undercover videos have exposed cruelty in farms in many states, and in 2008 a Humane Society expose … [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...]

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...]

Wyoming House Passes Ag Gag Bill; Bill Introduced in Illinois

The Wyoming House passed its ag-gag bill, HB 126 this last week. The summary of the bill states "An ACT relating to agriculture; establishing the offense of interfering with an agricultural operation; providing immunity for reporting cruelty to livestock as specified; providing for assistance by livestock board; providing definitions; providing a penalty; and providing for an effective date. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Wallis (R) and Senator Driskill (R), passed with a 33 to 27 vote. The bill makes it a crime to "knowingly or intentionally" record images or sounds of an agricultural operation with concealed devices without the owner's consent. The bill does state that anyone who reports abuse to local police "within 48 hours" is immune from civil liability. Criminal penalties, however, … [Read more...]

New Hampshire, Wyoming, and Nebraska Introduce Ag-Gag Laws

New Hampshire, Wyoming, and Nebraska are the latest states to introduce so-called Ag-Gag laws. Those laws make it illegal for activists and journalists to go undercover to expose animal abuse on factory farms. Last year, similar legislation passed in Missouri, Iowa, and Utah, joining North Dakota, Montana, and Kansas as the six states with such laws. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) developed the Animal & Ecological Terrorisms in America bill as "model legislation" for lawmakers to use when writing these laws. They equate whistle blowing on factory farms with domestic terrorism in which "environmental militants have used violence as a tool to force communities, businesses, local municipalities, and individuals to comport to their views." ALEC also claims that the … [Read more...]

Congress Passes Whistleblower Protection Act

On Tuesday, November 13, 2012, the Senate approved the Whistleblower Protection Act, which provides new protections for federal employees. The legislation passed the House in September. President Obama is expected to sign the bill. The Government Accountability Project's Food Integrity Campaign (FIC) has listed types of actions that would be protected under the new law. They include, for example, an FDA inspector who exposes falsification of records at farms, a public health veterinarian telling a USDA supervisor that a slaughterhouse is violating humane handling regulations, and an FDA researcher whose attempts to publish new findings on a food ingredient are suppressed. It also protects government scientists who challenge censorship and cancels the 1999 precedent that translates … [Read more...]

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