Ag-Gag Bills: Proof Your Activism Brings Results!

June 25, 2013

Ag-GagThe fight isn’t over yet. Some states want to ban filming of factory farm abuses—and fracking operations as well! Action Alerts!

As we reported last February, nine “Ag-Gag bills”—that is, bills that suppress freedom of speech when it comes to exposing the abuses at factory farms—have been introduced in 2013, more than in any previous year. Thanks to your activism, none of them became law. Bills have been defeated in Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Wyoming, California, Vermont, and Tennessee. (In Tennessee, the law passed the state House and Senate, but the governor vetoed it!) This is proof that the messages you send to your legislators have a profound impact on which bills become law—and which do not.
Happily, Ag-Gag bills are attracting a great deal of media attention—much of it either well-placed outrage at the laws, or, as with the Daily Show, a good dose of satire.
Currently, dangerous Ag-Gag bills are pending in two states:

  • In North Carolina, SB 648 targets “fraud” in job applications (i.e., undercover journalists who pose as employees), and imposes up to $50,000 in fines. The bill would make it mandatory to turn any recording over to authorities within twenty-four hours, and bans photography at any place of employment! It should be noted that North Carolina is no stranger to animal cruelty. In 2011, a two-week investigation into a Butterball turkey farm revealed major animal abuses. Police raided the facility and charged five workers with criminal animal cruelty. A state Department of Agriculture official was convicted of obstruction of justice in the case.
  • In Pennsylvania, HB 683 would ban the recording of agricultural operations, posting any such recording on the Internet or sending it via any other medium, obtaining access to an agricultural operation under false pretenses, obtaining employment with the intention of recording agricultural operations, or trespassing on such operations.

Especially disturbing is the fact that the Pennsylvania bill, if the language is interpreted broadly, could prevent filming of fracking operations. Most fracking—that is, hydraulic fracturing, a method of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling—occurs on leased farmland. According to the language of the bill, anything that takes place on that land would be similarly protected.
This broad interpretation may not be far-fetched. Pennsylvania does a great deal of fracking, and former governor Ed Rendell now works as a consultant to a private equity firm that is heavily invested in the natural gas industry.
As we’ve noted previously, fracking causes toxic chemicals to be released into the air and water, causing widespread pollution. Scientists have identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, which even in low levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness, and in high concentrations can cause leukemia and death. The water is also often laden with barium, which is found in underground ore deposits and can cause high blood pressure, breathing difficulties, muscle weakness, swelling of the brain, and kidney damage; radium, a naturally occurring radioactive (and carcinogenic) substance; and strontium, which is necessary in trace amounts for bone development, but in too large amounts can disrupt it and cause cancer.
Unfortunately, in previous legislative sessions, Ag-Gag bills became law in Iowa, Missouri, and Utah. In Utah, the first Ag-Gag charges have already been brought against a whistleblower, though prosecutors decided to drop the charges—this time. With this new law on the books, it will almost certainly be enforced in the future.
As we noted in February, CAFOs, or Confined Animal Feeding Operations, are responsible for foodborne illnesses such as salmonella and listeria; are notorious for their use of antibiotics for nontherapeutic uses, and for exacerbating the “superbug” problem in which organisms become increasingly resistant to antibiotics; and ruin rural economies. In addition, there is the inhumane treatment of the animals themselves. Ag-Gag laws prevent consumers from making truly informed choices about what they eat.
Action Alert! If you live in North Carolina or Pennsylvania, please contact your legislators immediately and urge them to vote NO on these dangerous Ag-Gag bills!
North Carolina Action Alert!
Pennsylvania Action Alert!

14 responses to “Ag-Gag Bills: Proof Your Activism Brings Results!”

  1. CAFOs, or Confined Animal Feeding Operations, are responsible for foodborne illnesses such as salmonella and listeria; are notorious for their use of antibiotics for nontherapeutic uses, and for exacerbating the “superbug” problem in which organisms become increasingly resistant to antibiotics; and ruin rural economies. In addition, there is the inhumane treatment of the animals themselves.
    Ag-Gag laws prevent consumers from making truly informed choices about what they eat.
    Nine “Ag-Gag bills”—that is, bills that suppress freedom of speech when it comes to exposing the abuses at factory farms—have been introduced in 2013, more than in any previous year. Please don’t take more of our freedoms away and vote against this.
    Sincerely,
    Marvin Kistler

  2. Renee Koenitzer says:

    I will be perfectly fine with never buying any eggs, or whatever little meat I eat, from Big Ag ever again. Local grassfed, free-range, no antibiotics or growth hormone suits me just fine.

  3. Pete says:

    Filming of factory farms & fracking operations should be welcomed as free advertising by those who believe in those things. Could it be that those practicing those production methods are only interested in financial gain rather than the good of all?

  4. Gloria Picchetti says:

    Ag-gag laws are immoral. We know animals will be killed and eaten. We don’t want them to live in inhumane conditions and be slaughtered in inhumane conditions. Factory farms are not only inhumane but they also destroy the environment. We want to know how agricultural animals live and die.

  5. B R says:

    Even in VT Fracking is an issue. It is dangerous. So are tar sands, and our small state may not have a lot of people, but we care about the welfare of all. Fracking is bad business that we will be cleaning up for years to come, as will tar sands. Look to the sun and wind. Be safe. Be clean.
    Also, urge education and conservation of resources!!

  6. Rahila Bashir says:

    Please vote no to Ag-gag bill. ThankRahila Bashir

  7. Doris says:

    “Ag-Gag” bill are a GOOD idea. They keep the con men seeking donations to their ’cause’ off farms. Farmers treat their animal humanely. If they didn’t production and profits would suffer. College agriculture programs have worked with farmers for decades to find the best treatment so that the animals would be highly productive and profitable. If the conditions were not humane, the operations would not be profitable. The videos I have seen were highly edited. The alluded to abuse, but did not show any. Ag-gag bill are ment to prevent video from being edited. Just the facts, please! If you see child abuse, you are to report it immediately. It should be the same for animals, not a two week or six month ‘window to show a pattern’. The animal rights advocates just want your donations. $$$$$$

  8. LEO G YOUNGER says:

    It seems to me that reporting a crime, by an employer, such as a CAFO, or a neighbor (such as a CAFO), or in any other circumstance, should be at least tolerated, of not rewarded by law enforcement authorities, & should certainly not be prosecuted by anyone. What about the First Amendment?

  9. Ken Greenwald says:

    It’s simple: Don not surpress knowledge. Allow the revealing of mistreatment to animals on factory farms. Our health is at stake. Being humane is at stake. Ban CAFOs and allow natural breeding and freedom.

  10. William Brion says:

    Do the right thing

  11. Brad Roon says:

    Actually we don’t need to take pics of freakin frackin’. We need to insure that every fracking rig has an unfortunate, fatal accident to the equipement, not the people. Why do GW Bush & investors spend billions to control water rights to the largest aquifer in S America when there is no market?
    Because they want to destroy your reasonably inexpensive water and force you to buy theirs. Nestle’s CEO thinks he can designate water as a commodity which we have no right to access. He says it needs to be controlled by govt & corporations. What? How did a corpse-oration get regulatory rights? Illegal and dangerous.
    Commodities are business terms for traded items. Water predates the term and “function” of commodity, business, civilization, and humanity. It is a life necessity for all biological life on the planet and predates humanity. Thus it is impossible to be a “commodity”. But if these azzhulls control it YOU and i will pay through the nose, and be total slaves or die of thirst. This is not paranoia, but the track record of business reality, and our currently Fascist govt. (govt for business/small group of people = Fascism, literally. That is us, or US)

  12. Hasn’t ‘transparency’ been a lead message to govenrment for some time? How come, suddenly, certain businesses and legislators want opacity? When food issues are the concern, transparency must lead.

  13. Jeff/Ann Klein says:

    WHEN are PEOPLE going to be more important to you than MONEY??????

  14. matin fano says:

    Good..we need to go after these people who abuse animals. CAFO farming has been a total disaster..to the environment, to the poor animals and to use the consumer. The CAFO’s are inhumane…the animals are sick..pumped up with anti-biotics..fed on GMO creations from Monsanto..I only buy grass fed or free range….The more people know what is really going on will finally put an end to this unsustainable, cruel way or rearing cattle, pigs, turkeys and chickens.

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