Last week I posted “Perhaps the most disturbing animal cruelty video ever.” I still cannot watch it in full. Even though I grew up on a farm and killed chickens, pigs, turkeys, cows and rabbits for food, I always did it with a feeling a dread, but with nothing to hide.
Minnesota House Bill 1369 and Senate Bill 1118 would make a prohibited act “a person who acts without the consent of the owner of an animal facility (defined as “a location where an agricultural animal is maintained, including but not limited to a location dedicated to farming, a livestock market, or exhibitions; a location where an animal is maintained for educational or scientific purposes, including, but not limited to, a research facility”) to willfully do any of the following is guilty of animal facility interference:
(1) produce a record which reproduces an image or sound occurring at the animal facility if:
(i) the record is created by the person while at the animal facility; and
(ii) the record is a reproduction of a visual or audio experience occurring at the animal facility, including but not limited to a photographic or audio medium;
(2) possess or distribute a record which produces an image or sound occurring at the animal facility which was produced as provided in clause (1); …
The penalty for such behavior would be: “A person who commits animal facility interference is guilty of a gross misdemeanor. For a second or subsequent conviction of animal facility interference, the person is guilty of a felony. And, a person convicted of animal facility interference is subject to an order of restitution.”
Iowa Senate Bill 431 and House Bill 589 in large measure mirror Minnesota. In Iowa, “a person is guilty of animal facility interference, if the person acts without the consent of the owner of an animal facility to willfully do any of the following:
a. Produce a record which reproduces an image or sound occurring at the animal facility as follows:
(1) The record must be created by the person while at the animal facility
(2) The record must be a reproduction of a visual or audio experience occurring at the animal facility, including but not limited to a photographic or audio medium.
b. Possess or distribute a record which produces an image or sound occurring at the animal facility which was produced as provided in paragraph “a”….
A person who commits the offense of animal facility interference is guilty of the following:
a. For the first conviction, the person is guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor.
b. For a second or subsequent conviction, the person is guilty of a class “D” felony.
c. A person convicted of animal facility interference is subject to an order of restitution as provided in chapter 910.
The Florida Senate Bill 1246 is a tad less verbose, but the point is the same. Any person, except an employee or agent of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services acting pursuant to s. 570.15, Florida Statutes, or a law enforcement officer conducting a lawful inspection or investigation, who enters onto a farm or other property where legal agriculture operations are being conducted and produces audio or video records without the written consent of the owner or an authorized representative of the owner, commits misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, Florida Statutes. As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Audio or video records” means any audio or video recording, regardless of the recording medium or format, including, but not limited to, photographs, audio or videotapes, cd’s, dvd’s, or streaming media, whether stored on film stock, hard disks, solid state storage, or any electrical, magnetic, or optical or other form of data storage.
(b) “Farm” means any tract of land cultivated for the purpose of agricultural production, the raising and breeding of domestic animals, or the storage of a commodity.
You have to wonder what the so-called “farmers” in these states are seeking to protect? Yes, having someone film you abusing animals or running an operation without any concern to food safety, is embarrassing – and it should be – and it should be punished. But, punishing those who expose it should not be. With billion dollar holes in state budgets, legislatures have more important things to do than making our food supply even less transparent.