Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, and most recently New York have introduced bills designed to suppress undercover photojournalism which exposes food safety issues, criminal activity, and the abuses that occur behind the closed doors of the animal agribusiness. Although these bills have slightly different language, each one, if passed would criminalize the act of taking a photograph or videotaping farmed animal facilities without the written consent of the owner.
The justification for New York’s “ag-gag” bill:
New York’s family farms have become increasingly concerned with the focus on livestock agriculture. While working with the Departments of Homeland Security as well as local law enforcement, it has become clear from several recent instances of animal and facility tampering (the unlawful injection of cattle with antibiotics in Western New York, and the increasing theft of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer, utilized by meth addicts to make illegal substances) that the tools for law enforcement and for farmers to help secure their premises are not always accurate. The Department of Homeland Security, working with the FDA and others, have indicated that farmers need to be more aware of where there security weaknesses are, and to work on improving means to discourage trespass and tampering which may weaken the safety of our food supply.
I’m confused. How is criminalizing photojournalism going to help farmers pin point security weaknesses on their farms? Additionally, are meth addicts taking pictures of farm animals? I smell manure and on the pasture I see a “straw man,” but it’s not a scarecrow (well it kind of is).
Although Florida’s CS/SB 1446 and Minnesota’s HF 1369 have been met with public opposition and are currently dead, there is a chance that both will be reintroduced next year. Interestingly, the remaining bill in Iowa has faced bipartisan opposition, including national Republican political pundit Mary Matalin.
NY’s ag-gag bill, S-5172, passed in the Senate Agriculture Committee, and it’s been moved to the Senate where it may be voted on soon. If S-5172 passes and becomes law, it will protect the interests of animal agribusiness by prohibiting whistle-blowing at factory farms and curtailing free speech.
ACT NOW: Please contact your New York State senator today, urging him or her to oppose S-5172 and to uphold constitutional rights as well as the public’s right to know what happens behind the closed doors of factory farms.
Filed under: animal advocacy, animal law, Uncategorized Tagged: | ag-gag, animal advocacy, animal cruelty, animal law, animal rights, animal suffering, animal welfare, factory farms, farmed animals, First Amendment, industrial farming, New York