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Farm Protection Is Not “Ag-Gag,” Says Animal Ag Spokeswoman

The introductions of new bills in Arkansas and Indiana bring the number of states where legislatures will be considering measures about interference with livestock and poultry operations to five.

A national spokeswoman for animal agriculture says such legislative proposals should be labeled as “farm protection” measures, not “ag-gag” bills as opponents call them.

“Nothing gets animal rights activists all a-flutter like a good Farm Protection bill,” says Emily Metz Meredith, writing i. Meredith says animal agriculture has “faced off against the likes of HSUS, PETA, Mercy for Animals and ASPCA over the state bills.”

She asks why animal activist groups are so interested in Farm Protection or “Ag-gag” bills. “Theanswer is simple—this legislation would destroy any opportunities the above-referenced groups would have to film, photograph or other wise exploit farmers, ranchers and processors.” Meredith says.

The Arkansas Legislature will actually take up two bills: senate bills 13 and 14. The first, SB 13, is a rewrite of the state’s animal cruelty law. It contains new language that makes an “improper animal investigation” by someone who is not a “certified law enforcement officer” a Class B misdemeanor with the potential for a civil penaty of $5,000.

SB 14 would make interference of livestock or poultry operations either a Class A or B misdemeanor. It would prohibit image or sound recording, either by concealing equipment or trespass, and applying for livestock or poultry employment for the purpose of doing underground.

Indiana also has two bills under consideration, SB 373 and SB 391. The three-page SB 373 makes it unlawful to record agricultural or industrial operations, including photographs or video recordings. The ten-page SB 391 also makes it unlawful to record agricultural operations and requires the Indiana Board of Animal Health to maintain a registry of persons convicted of such crimes.

Farm protection, or “ag-gag” bills are also getting legislative attention in New Hampshire, Nebraska and Wyoming. This the second legislative season in a row during which agricultural interests have pushed these kinds of bill. Animal activists stopped most of them, but new laws were in enacted in Iowa, Utah and Missouri.

Meredith says if animal activists “truly cared about animal welfare, then they wouldn’t wait one second to report a valid issue to property authorities.”

“These bills not only encourage the reporting of legitimate incidences of animal abuse, but they mandate that it occurs within a short time frame—in most cases 24 hours, “ she wrote. While true for the first three bills, the quick reporting requirement appears to be missing from the latest bills, at least as introduced.

“Ag-gag” bills make whistle blowing on factory farms “essentially impossible,” according to HSUS. It opposes what it says are requiring mandatory reporting with “impossibly short timelines so that no pattern of abuse can be documented.”

The first bills to shield farm and ranch operations from viewing by unwanted outsiders were signed into law more than 20 years by Kansas, North Dakota and Montana. No prosecutions are known to have resulted.

© Food Safety News
  • http://burningbird.net Shelley Powers

    There’s nothing that activates animal welfare people, environmentalists, and food safety more than food producers who want to hide their activity. 

    What do you have to hide? Abuse animal practices? Conditions that would disgust the average consumer, much less the above named groups? Poor livestock practices meant to maximum profits with a minimum cost?

    Good farmers who use good livestock practices never have to hide. But then, the people behind these laws aren’t farmers–they’re mega-corporations who turn family farmers into serfs, and farms into closed door and window factories that cram as many animals as possible into filthy conditions, all the while polluting both water and air. 

    But oh, these organizations are generous with state legislators, aren’t they? Lots of money to toss around. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nina-Schipperke/100002776368647 Nina Schipperke

    Ms Meredith is on her way to law school,  so she knows very well that the very LAST thing one of her abusive producers wants is  the whistleblower establishing a PATTERN of abuse.

    Only  proof of multiple incidents will stand up in court.

    If whistleblower is made to report the first single incident, Bingo!  whistleblower is shoved  out the door, no pattern of abuse is established, and Ms. Meredith’s abuser goes on about his merry way, unfettered by the courts, with only a wee slap-on-the-wrists to show for his egregious livestock abuse.

    I shouldda gone to law school.

    • Emily Metz-Meredith

       Hi Nina, I actually am a recent law school graduate from Seton Hall University, School of law and I passed the bar in New York and New Jersey. I want to correct a few inaccuracies in your post and would urge you to read my “Parts II and III” on Meatingplace over the next few weeks on this topic. First, no one in the industry supports animal abuse. Second, if an incident of animal abuse is reported to the authorities, it doesn’t “go away” it is investigated by those authorities–people equipped to handle animal welfare issues and allegations. Those that work in animal agriculture and are experts at every level have developed the welfare standards that everyone in the industry is mandated to follow, and they are the ones best suited to investigate instances of abuse.
      Again, I hope you’ll tune in for my upcoming blogs–and best of luck if you choose to pursue a legal career!

  • Kenkailing

    ALL food operations need to open up their doors, not close them. The American Public has a right to know everything about its food, where and how it is produced, processed, packaged and sold. It is an age old problem, the problem of deception in food. In civilized society, government has always had to play a major role to protect the health and safety of its citizens. NO GAG ON REPORTING, PLEASE!

    • Deathmagnet666

      What for? If you want to know what is happening with your food do the work yourself! Unfortunately you rely on Media for your info. Plagerizing MSNBC or ABC won’t give you the info your looking for.

  • http://twitter.com/chrisb3rry Chris Berry

    The only reason there is a “24 hour” reporting time frame (as opposed to a month or so)  is to stop investigations from documenting any abuse extending past that window of time. It’s pretty weak to frame this as an animal protection measure.

    • MicroQueen

      Why should there be any reason to wait longer then 24 hours to report a case of animal abuse???  Reporting should be immediate so that corrective measures may be taken and so that other livestock/poultry is not subjected to continued abusive action.

  • chiam0nkey

    This article seems one sided.  Did they even get the take of the other side? If these bills were created to protect farm animals, one would think the agricultural community would be working WITH the animal protection groups, not against them.  So far, the videos that have been exposed benefit neither the animals being mistreated nor the public.

  • Barbara Griffith

    From the photos I have seen taken inside pig farms and chicken farms of workers beating and hitting the animals and one guy slamming baby chicks on the floor of a chicken house to kill them. This farm tossed baby chicks into a  grinder alive  to kill them because they either were not the right size or were males.  What would someone call that being kind to the animal?  Give me a break. There is better ways to dispose of chicks than what I saw.  It’s this type of cruelty that goes on every day the farmers know this and don’t care.  The consumers are stuck because these farmers are the only game in town as far as food is concerned.  Most of the population does not live in areas where you can raise your own chickens,  pigs or beef.  Most wouldn’t know how to raise the animals or butcher them humanely.

  • federalmicrobiologist

    Statements to the effect that ‘no one in the industry
    supports animal abuse’ are profoundly naïve, and indicate an utter dissociation
    from reality.

    Organizations and individuals like the National Pork
    Producers, the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill
    Northey, Iowa State Veterinarian David Schmitt, and the Coalition to Support
    Iowa’s Farmers, like to state their ‘opposition’ to animal abuse as part of
    their campaign to ‘tell their story’ to combat ‘misinformation’ about ‘modern
    agriculture’.

    Complicit with these advocates for industrial farm animal
    production (IFAP) are Veterinary School, and land grant university Animal
    Science department faculty, like Iowa State University’s Suzanne Millman, who
    is a consultant to the newly-formed Iowa Farm Animal Care Commission (IFACC)
    (1).

    These faculty members rarely disclose their affiliations –
    as employees, consultants, or grant recipients – with concentrated animal
    feeding operations (CAFO) operators and CAFO advocacy groups.

    The IFACC  recently was
    formed for the express purpose of discrediting disclosures of abuse at pig CAFOs,
    by touting ‘today’s customary animal husbandry practices’ as being ‘science-based’.
    When abuse is reported, the IFACC is presumed to be available to serve as an
    investigatory body at the offending institution(s)….but whether it will do any genuine,
    legitimate investigating, is of course open to question.

    Let’s be clear: what practitioners of IFAP are opposed to is
    the REPORTAGE of animal abuse, NOT animal abuse per se.

    It’s the reportage (such as the expose of operations at a
    swine CAFO owned by Minnesota-based Christensen Family Farms, by ‘Mercy for
    Animals’ last July) that leads to the cessation of contracts from large purchasers
    such as Wal-Mart.

    Needless to say, the Christensen Farms expose caused much
    consternation in the pork industry, not over the treatment of the animals, but
    because of the economic impact of the released video footage.

    Overnight a variety of damage control strategies were
    implemented, such the utterly facile ‘We Care’ coalition, which touts that “…..(swine)
    farmers strongly support zero-tolerance policies regarding animal mistreatment
    and recommend that abuse be reported immediately to proper authorities” (3).

    Practitioners of IFAP are bitterly opposed to implementing
    measures – such as the abandonment of gestation crates – that would improve
    animal welfare. They are opposed to having their operations audited for animal
    abuse by independent, non-industry affiliated organizations.  And there are plenty of compliant politicians
    who can be enlisted to support IFAP.

    Hopefully, ‘ag-gag’ laws won’t deter animal welfare
    organizations from continuing to expose animal abuse on America’s farmlands.

     

    (1) http://www.iowafarmbureau.com/articles/78750/farmers_animal_well-being_experts_veterinarians__industry_leaders_launch_iowa_farm_animal_care_ifac_coalition

    (2) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/18/walmart-christensen-farms-mercy-for-animals-video_n_1683119.html

    (3) http://www.porkcares.org/default.aspx#.UQmWxGeLLak

     

  • MicroQueen

    YAY for FARM PROTECTION – FINALLY, livestock and poultry producers in some states can be protected from the domestic terrorism that groups like HSUS, PETA, Mercy for Animals and the ASPCA promote.  From the comments I have seen posted here, most people have NO IDEA what it is like to have your properties stalked by groups looking to further their agenda to have animal agriculture ELIMINATED completely.  These types of groups have no business breaking and entering onto properties and destroying equipment and disturbing livestock to conduct their OWN investigations – they aren’t qualified or trained to do so.  Their ONLY purpose is to generate as much visual as they can get and then skew it to misrepresent the facts and show themselves in a righteous light.    And, they are upset about the 24-hour rule because it doesn’t give them enough edit time to perfect their lies.  Twenty-fours hours is more than enough time for me to report a breaking and entering, so it should be enough time for someone to report a case of animal abuse.  And as far as the agricultural community working with a these groups….I hardly think that we want to be aligned with a bunch of thugs who think they are beyond the law. 

  • Wildliferesq

    For an excellent and accurate summation of the real story, read federalmicrobiologist’s comments, below. We all know this is just a way for CAFO’s to continue their disgusting and inhumane treatment of animals undetected by the public. All good reasons to go vegetarian, buy only from local growers, or raise your own food. The meat you buy on styrofoam trays in the grocery comes from a CAFO, you can be sure.

  • Oginikwe

     I see in many of your posts, Nina, that “Cram_it_Nina_u_insulting_twat” is “liking” what you have to say. 

    I’m surprised that the moderators of this thread has allowed this to go on because this site has usually had a  civil level of discourse, which, of course, this is not.

    I guess that’s what one does when they got nothing else left but to attack the person rather than what they have to say.

  • MicroQueen

    Not sure what your definition of drama is, but if you want the facts - check out the FBI’s First Wanted Domestic Terrorist http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2009/april/wanted_042109 and then check out WHO are viewed as the highest ranking domestic threats in this country by the FBI and the US Dept of Homeland Security.  They happen to be the very same individuals that Farm Protection laws are designed to address.  And one misquote you made to be corrected – these activists are out to eliminate ANIMAL AGRICULTURE, not ALL agriculture. 

  • Deathmagnet666

    Wow Emily! i must admitt you have woken the hate groups. I applaud your strength to tackle the truth behind Animal Rights Groups and their agenda to force their views upon others. I love your blogs on meeting place, right now it seems more and more “Hate” groups are attcking the validity of your education and experience in animal husbandry and agriculture and yet you fight back with the truth which ultimately scrambles the haters thoughts to the point where they cant even muster the right words for a defensive come-back. Way to go! I will fully support these bills in my state should the legislation have enough courage to stand up against a well funded, media supported, tax free “Hate Group” like HSUS. Keep up the good work.   ABW

  • http://www.aspca.org/ Olivia with ASPCA

    Ms. Meredith, by her own words, concedes that these bills
    are about thwarting investigations, and has claimed that is why they are so
    “crucial.” It is simply disingenuous for the agricultural industry to claim
    that mandatory reporting “ag-gag” bills – and that’s what they are – are
    designed for animal protection.

     

    The ASPCA strongly believes in encouraging cruelty
    reporting.  But the mandatory reporting requirements showing up in some of
    these bills, while on the very surface appearing to encourage cruelty reporting,
    in fact do the opposite. With their arbitrary and short reporting deadlines and
    lack of protection for whistleblowers, these bills are designed to preclude
    thorough investigations that reveal a pattern of abuse – often needed for
    prosecutions – and types of cruelty that occur over time (like neglect and
    abandonment).  They dissuade people from turning over evidence after the
    prescribed period for fear of prosecution. And they are rife with
    constitutional problems.

     

    It’s also worth noting it’s much more than animal interests
    at stake. Check out the diverse group
    of national organizations opposing these bills, including food safety and
    workers’ rights groups: http://www.aspca.org/Pressroom/press-releases/022312.

  • http://elvbendelkhounds.com/ elvbend

    Well, Terry Ward has resorted back to Nina Schipperke.  Most of you will recognize Terry Ward’s name, but Nina is her alter-ego.  Terry is an HSUS troll, plain and simple, and darned nasty about it most of the time.

  • http://elvbendelkhounds.com/ elvbend

     It is virtually impossible to work WITH the animal rights activists because 1) they refuse to compromise their Pollyana view of the world of animals, and 2) they simply want to eliminate animal use or enjoyment.

  • http://elvbendelkhounds.com/ elvbend

    Why would anyone wait more than 24 hours to report abuse?  What does that gain?

    Sure, there are bad apples and bad practices.  There are bad parents, too, but that does not make every parent bad.

    For most farmers, is is not economically productive to abuse or mistreat animals.  Animals in bad shape don’t produce well. 

    The Animal Rights groups would have the public believe that anyone who farms or breeds animals is an evil abuser.  Again, there are some bad parents.  Doesn’t make parents all bad.  There are some bad farmers.  The majority are not.

    Lest we have the Humane videographers infiltrate our homes, I think these animal protection bills are necessary before a slippery slope is erected.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dawn.cuppy Dawn Cuppy

    This article has me wonder if anyone has anything up there besides space between your ears. The point is if they make it a crime to video tape anything your going down a slippery slope. Looks like some arn’t looking at the bigger picture. Its not just about animal rights its about the rights to video tape period. First this bill then more laws will be passed.Soon no video taping cops or  Politicians . Seems the media among others dont want to inform the public about things that should be brought out in the open. It’s sad how in the last 20 years people are easily mislead.