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New Hampshire Bill: Too Short For an “Ag-Gag” Bill?

The “live free or die” state might require anyone recording livestock abuse to report it to law enforcement within 24 hours.

Such prompt reporting is called for in a mere 7-line House Bill being heard for the first time today in the New Hampshire House and Agriculture Committee. Animal advocacy groups have already labeled it an “Ag-gag” bill, but it’s unclear whether what’s going on in New Hampshire fits that description..

Last year three states – Iowa, Missouri, and Utah – followed three others who had passed similar measures 20 years ago – North Dakota, Montana  and Kansas – in adopting laws that critics say are intended to legally “gag” those who collect evidence of animal cruelty on private agricultural property without permission of the owner. In some cases, running contrary to these laws could in theory bring felony charges. (Apparently no one has ever been prosecuted under any of these state laws.)

Sponsors of HB110 say it merely requires persons who record cruelty to livestock to report it within 24 hours. Joanne Bourbeau, northwest regional director for the Humane Society of the United States, claims the New Hampshire bill “punishes whistleblowers and endangers the public by hiding animal abuse, unsafe working conditions, food safety issues and environmental problems on industrial farms…”

Animal rights groups such as HSUS, Mercy for Animals and others periodically use undercover operatives to record animal abuse. Some agricultural interests say those undercover assignments have sometimes been extended so that more egregious examples can be recorded, making, they say, quick reporting of abuse best for the animals.

© Food Safety News
  • HB110 is purely an ag-gag bill,
    proposed by the agribusiness industry as a way to prevent whistle-blowing
    investigations at factory farms, all while giving the illusion of animal
    protection. Most investigations at agribusiness facilities take weeks, if not
    months to complete. Often a pattern of abuse must be established, which takes
    far more than the 24 hours given in HB110. 


    Other mandatory reporting laws
    in NH are strikingly different from this bill.  For example, the bill only
    covers livestock. If the bill was truly meant to help prosecute animal cruelty,
    why not include cruelty to cats, dogs, and other animals? As well, the bill
    only requires someone to report animal cruelty if they happen to record
    it—meaning if they are actually investigating a facility.  The ag industry
    only wants to impose a burden on investigators, rather than anyone who happens
    to witnesses cruelty.


    The effect of this bill’s
    enactment in NH would be to criminalize the kinds of important undercover
    investigations being conducted by animal welfare organizations. Animal
    advocates should recognize the bill for the wolf in sheep’s clothing that it
    is, and oppose HB110.


    If you have questions, please
    feel free to contact me at mdominguez@hsus.org.

    • Not true at all Matthew.  Your undercover trespassers can turn over their surreptitious recordings to law enforcement officers on a daily basis and continue on with their undercover recording.  Any law enforcement agency worth it’s salt would cooperate. 

      I think what you are objecting to losing the ability to edit the recordings to present the story you want told instead of presenting events as they actually occur.  Well, that and the ability for your undercover tresspassers to influence the development of undesirable patterns of behavior by encouraging the violators.  At least that is what some of them have done in past undercover incidents.

      You ask why dogs, cats and other animals are not included in this bill.  Well, I’ll ask you a similar question.  When HSUS and it’s state and local cooperators propose bills, why are they narrowly focused on only one or two species?

      Face it Matthew, your organization focuses more on political action and collecting donations than it focuses on rescuing and caring for animals in distress.  That is why you want to be able to hold and edit recordings for weeks, months and even years.

  • kaylor

    Obviously some videos have not surfaced for years after being recorded.  Just exactly how urgent is the danger to these animals and just exactly how much do those recording give a rip?  Apparently they live for the perverse pleasure of recording animals suffering while they stand idly by with their cameras.  Doesn’t say much for these so-called animal advocates.

    • Carol

      You are making assumptions. How do you know the videos weren’t already used somewhere else, but you just happened to see it when used again years later? You look and sound like an ass when you assume without backing it up.

  • Carl Lefrançois

    your arguments ring hollow in light of the fact that federal investigators who were present at factory farms failed to report the abuses that went on there.

    I’d like to believe your point of view, that simply turning over recordings to the authorities immediately would be a good thing, and that these laws are not at all meant to try to counter the recent publicizing of inappropriate corporate behaviour.

    the fact of the matter is these laws are coming about now, after these sad events, and brought forward by people who work for the very corporations who are the offenders.

    everyone reading this news has to make up their own minds about what is really going on here, not just believing every law introduced is done so for the public good.  read on, fellow internet surfers, read on…

  • Deb0956

    Bull, if it wasn’t for these groups exposing animal abuse on farms most of the population would have no idea what goes on.  These groups got a few large fast food chains to change their buying habits.  We have a right to know what business practices we are supporting when we make purchases.   If you are a manufacturer of any product, cameras should be allowed in at anytime.  Manufactures should have nothing to hide.   I own a restaurant, I would allow cameras in my kitchen at anytime.