Only a floor vote in the Missouri Senate may stand between Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk and a bill making fraud and interference new crimes if carried out at agricultural facilities, a so-called “ag-gag” law.

House Bill 1860, adopted by the Missouri House on a 124-29 vote, now carries an important  “do pass” recommendation from the powerful Missouri Senate Agriculture, Food Production, and Outdoor Resources Committee.

The “do pass” recommendation was attached to the bill on May 10, and it could have been brought up for a vote at any time since then. But for the past week, Missouri’s General Assembly was caught up in what observers called  “contentious cross-chamber negotiations” on the “Show Me” state’s new budget.  

With the budget settled, the push is on to see what business can be accomplished before Missouri lawmakers go home on May 18. If it clears the Senate and is signed into law by Nixon, the Missouri would become the third state after Iowa and Utah to adopt an “ag-gag” bill this year.

Twenty years ago, three other states–Kansas, North Dakota, and Montana–adopted similar laws. All are designed to discourage taking undercover videos and pictures inside animal agriculture facilities.

  • DJ

    If the animals were not treated so brutally, there would not be any reason for this law. So cruel and inhumane treatment can be hidden if this passes, and the animals will suffer even more. People like that disgust me, and every other decent person.

  • Whether this passes in the Senate depends on how many of the urban senators push against it.
    We have a few who won’t go for this, but too many others “make deals” with the rural reps in order to get something they want for the cities. We have very few animal friendly senators.
    Mine is actually one, and he’s a Republican.
    Even the Democrats in the state won’t buck the agribusiness interests. And that includes Nixon.

  • Chris

    To the extent even “agribusiness” has a right to protection from trespassers and vandals this legislation makes perfect sense. If there weren’t activist zealots lying and sneaking their way onto private property with an intent to misrepresent honest farmers “there would not be any reason for this law”. Let’s make these skulking anti-agriculture scabs accountable for their smear tactics. Call it “ag-gag” or “scab-grab”, this legislation is a good start.

  • Gemma

    If agriculture facilities have nothing to hide why do they need a gag law and why are state legislatures passing these laws for them? It seems that enforcing a trespassing law should be enough in most cases. I understand that many consumers may be squeamish about, or not understand how our food supply is processed but most can also tell the difference between animal cruelty, poor sanitation and proper handling.

  • Chris, there are already laws against trespassing.
    This bill is an attempt to prevent whistleblowers from exposing inhumane treatment, in addition to violations related both to food safety and worker welfare.
    It flies in the face of a long tradition of undercover investigation, beginning with Upton Sinclair’s work related to his book, The Jungle.
    It will be challenged in court if passed, and that means yet more state money spent defending bills created specifically to support special interests (CAFO owners).

  • Old Mac

    One man’s lying sneaking “anti-agriculture scabs” are another woman’s emotionally overwrought crusading “whistleblowers”.
    As for tradition, there is a long tradition of private ownership in America and an equally long tradition of protecting same from thieves and vandals. Modern technology brings modern iterations of tech savvy thieves and vandals dead set upon plundering and ruining private property of others.
    There’s nothing to hide. Look, just ask to come on the place and photograph stuff. I will probably turn you down because I certainly don’t trust you but you can ask first, right? When you are turned down and go sneaking around I can now call the cops and get some protection from wanton vandals disguised as self-annointed whistleblowers.
    The proposed law isn’t tough enough, only a misdemeanor. Personally I would like the legal right to “stand my ground” (a la Florida) against saboteurs, trespassers and assailants of all sorts. You come around with an agenda to mess me up, take your chances on getting messed up pretty good yourself. Kinda biblical, a concept easily recognizable to any self-righteous crusading zealot, isn’t it?

  • B. Lee

    This question seems obvious: If farmers are all supposed to be brutal inhumane abusive monsters why are these weaseling whistleblowers not posting heartwrenching videos of angry farmers giving them a first rate ass-kicking? What, except exemplary moral fortitude, could reasonably explain this unique self restraint on the part of these stereotypical evil crazed farmers? I must conclude activists’ blanket accusations of intentional farmer violence and cruelty are unreasonable. I must further conclude most, if not all of the gotcha videos are plotted or staged to some degree. A misdemeanor charge is pretty subtle compared to being descended upon by a pissed-off ninja farmer.

  • Old Mac, this bill will impact on people who get jobs with CAFOs and food production facilities in order to document violations of food and worker safety, as well as animal cruelty.
    The people will not be trespassing, they will be there legally.
    There are already trespassing laws in Missouriu. There are already laws on the books in Missouri about damaging farm equipment–more laws related to agricultural equipment than most other industries.
    The entire purpose of this bill is to prevent undercover investigations–to prevent whistleblowers from exposting inhumane treatment, or violations of food and worker safety.
    The only reason the some legislators want to have this bill is to protect CAFOs and food producers that utilize inhumane practices, and routinely disregard food and worker safety.
    That’s the only reason.
    You may dismiss concerns as emotional, because it’s simpler than addressing the facts. That’s your choice. But the fact remains: the only reason anyone wants a bill of this nature is to hide that, which they know consumers would not like.
    As for Stand your Ground–we saw how well that worked in Florida. Unless you support the gunning down of an unarmed 17 year old boy.

  • J. Price, Nashville

    This law is looking like a better and better idea. I would not want some obsessed fanatic like Shelly stalking about trying to destroy my family business simply because she personally dislikes my industry. Who pinned a badge on Shelly appointing her special persecutor of CAFOs or anything else? Who the hell does she think she is, anyway? We all deserve reasonable protection from angry unbalanced antagonists, even ones who lie and trick us into hiring them so they can unfairly set us up and damage us. If an activist lies to get a job why should we think he or she is truthful about anything else, including the circumstances of any amateur video they might publish? No honor among thieves or assassins or agenda-whores.

  • J Price, perhaps if livestock producers used humane practices with their livestock, treated their workers well, and ensured the livestock is not pumped full of antibiotics or other drugs, or taken off to be butchered while ill, they wouldn’t have to look over their shoulder all the time.
    In other words: if your operation is so great, why hide it?
    How can agriculture demand consumers learn more, all the while doing everything possible to prevent consumers from learning anything? The concept should be rejected based on the logical disconnect, at a minimum.
    Then consider this: how many of the farmers who want this law also want a hand out from the government any time something goes wrong? How many have benefited from public money?
    (And that is a rhetorical question, by the way…)
    Who is the liar? Who is the trickster, and the fraud?
    The ones hiding the truth.
    Farmers who support ag-gag laws: what do you have to hide?

  • Theo

    Fact is there’s plenty to hide in our modern food system. There’s no question some common ag practices are on the ropes when it comes to consumers seeing exactly HOW our food is being produced in all our names.
    Industrial Ag is constantly scrambling with damage control — but in lieu of real reforms it’s a losing game. Consumers have a right to transparency in the marketplace — and a right to real choice — and won’t stand for less no matter how much smoke is blown.
    As Shelley points out these Ag-Gag laws are groundless and will be overturned in Court — all to more well-deserved bad publicity.

  • Keene Observer

    So, finally we learn the anti-agriculture talking (shrieking) points distill to just two blatant dogmatic untruths, core beliefs recited with a relentless mind-numbing redundancy:
    1) Farmers treat livestock and people inhumanely even as they pump all animals full of drugs
    [this, of course, is patently absurd – only an idiot could sincerely believe such a ridiculous accusation]
    2) Farmers have everything to hide
    [in fact, farms and farmers are highly visible and can have no secrets — unfortunately they are also highly vulnerable to agro-terrorism of all sorts]
    But who are these shadowy hateful anti-agriculture propagandists and what’s in it for them? No one really knows. Because they shelter behind misleading organizational names and keep the truth of their repulsive twisted agendas well hidden. And because no sane person can hold their nose long enough to sort through all of activists’ putrid bigotry. Intensely crafted ignorance and fanatic paranoid mistrust seem to be fundamental elements. Not exactly the prize in a box of CrackerJacks, so who cares to lift the lid to dig through that insane mess?
    Even a little protective legislation is a welcome relief from the tiresome foodie assault on our intelligence.

  • Theo

    It’s not the farmers that are the problem — or whom the Ag-Gag laws are really designed to protect. CAFO farmers are little more than Corporate Serfs — while they invest in the buildings the Vertically Integrated Poultry, Hog, etc companies own/provide the live livestock (the dead birds and hogs are the farmer’s property) and formulate the feed ( laced with antibiotics and other super-growth-generating drugs) — and the contracts give all the power to the CAFO Corporations (surprise!)
    This is the systemic abuse of animals — and our food supply….

  • Keene Observer

    About 98% of American farmers, including nearly all of your unfairly maligned “CAFO farmers” are family farmers. They are by no means “serfs”. They own and operate privately held family farm businesses to suit themselves and their families. These proud American families have every right to the peaceful enjoyment of their property (and business profits) without meddling interference from anyone, including hateful agenda-driven saboteurs. All farmers, all food producers and all food consumers deserve reasonable protection against unreasonable smear attacks from misguided mountebanks such as yourself.

  • This law wants to hide what you’ll see in this new undercover investigation.
    This is what you seem to want to protect KeeneObserver.
    By the way, I wouldn’t watch the video unless you have a strong stomach.

  • Carol

    Hmmm…Shelly serves up a heapin’ helpin’ of HSUS video propaganda…precisely what Keen Observer warns is fed to us by activist shills.
    In the spirit of fair disclosure there a couple of things a reasoning person should know about HSUS (of course Shelly didn’t regurgitate any of these in our faces — talk about having things to hide!)…
    These are the malicious looney tunes who have set themselves up as investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner…unsolicited…on my behalf and yours. I can’t speak for you but I want no such representation. I want nothing to do with these sneaking scoundrels. I want laws to protect me from them!

  • Ah yes: HumaneWatch and AnimalScam. Both children of the infamous Rick Berman.
    Berman is same guy who runs front “non-profits” fighting against obesity studies, (and largely funded by the soda and fast food industries), and non-profits against MAAD, (largely funded by the alcohol industry).
    His efforts against HSUS are because of this organizations efforts to ensure better conditions for livestock, as well as battling canned hunts.
    I would say the food safety folks know who Rick Berman is. And lot of folks at this site don’t have a high opinion of front groups and deceptive practices. At least, I’ve found this to be generally true.

  • Annnd it looks like the Missouri senate pulled the ag-gag law provision from HB 1860.
    So it looks like ag-gag is dead in Missouri. At least, for now.

  • There is concern about one aspect of the bill. The following section:
    . Whenever any farm animal professional videotapes or otherwise makes a digital recording of what he or she believes to depict a farm animal subjected to abuse or neglect under sections 578.009 or 578.012, such farm animal professional shall have a duty to submit such videotape or digital recording to a law enforcement agency within twenty-four hours of the recording.
    3. No videotape or digital recording submitted under subsection 2 of this section shall be spliced, edited, or manipulated in any way prior to its submission.
    4. A violation of any provision of this section is a class A misdemeanor.
    There’s concern that this could effectively stop undercover investigations because the undercover people would not be able to get evidence of abuse and neglect over long periods of time.
    At the same time, wouldn’t whistleblower statutes protect the person from being exposed?
    Need a sharp legal mind to analyze this one.
    Is this still, in effect, an ag-gag provision?

  • Kojack

    Shelly wants to damage farmers without exposing herself to risk of prosecution. She pathetically blathers on and on about what she inaccurately refers to as whistleblowers, really just vigilante sneak thieves looking to foment a lynch mob. Listen here Shelly baby, no pain no gain, sweetheart — if you’re gonna beat up farmers they should at least not have their hands cuffed behind their backs while you do it. Missouri simply uncuffs their hands and permits them to defend themselves against your egregious attacks. Fair enough, no? Hey, who loves ya baby? -Cheers, Telly

  • Chase

    This is despicable. Every single pro-gag poster on here utterly ignores the fact that if the farmers weren’t doing anything wrong, then it wouldn’t matter if people taped their farming practices. In fact, most would be GLAD that their practices were being taped: one more chance to show the world that they’re doing a good job.
    You claim that the videos depicting animal cruelty are staged. I ask you, why would anyone do that?
    The vast majority of those who post these videos are not arguing against all farming, just farming that places animals under conditions they view as cruel. The ones who try to say that farming of any kind is animal abuse don’t need to video inhumane conditions, because they and the people who listen to them feel that killing the animals at all is abuse: no video evidence needed, because of course farmers kill animals.
    You’re whining about farmers’ livelihoods being ruined by these videos. That’s like Paramount whining when one of its movies gets bad reviews. The ONLY reason these videos hurt you is because YOUR PRACTICES ARE BAD. Your position is indefensible.
    Shelly: That would not serve as an ag-gag provision, because there is no stipulation that the material be submitted in person. An undercover agent could send it online.

  • Chase, once a video is submitted, then the CAFO owner would be aware that someone is investigating them. The CAFO owner fires everyone involved, just gets in new people, and the abuse (and safety violations) continue. The owner dismisses the incident as a one-off, and nothing is accomplished.
    These investigations work because they demonstrate how the CAFO systematically abuses the animals over a period a time. A one incident video is too easily dismissed.
    It’s a tricky, deceptive approach to implementing ag-gag, without seeming to implement ag-gag. It makes it a “crime” to carry on an investigation, because the person commits a crime by not turning in a video until the investigation is complete.
    Not only hiding abusive and unsafe practices, but practicing deception, too. Good job Missouri reps.