Tuesday, March 20, 2012

10 Things You Should Know About the Ag-Gag Movement

The Ag-Gag Movement - the evil effort by state legislators across the United States to ban photography and filming inside of factory farms, slaughter houses and other animal production facilities - is gaining strength across the country. Here are 10 things to remember about this nationwide jihad to stamp out the truth and punish whistleblowers.

1. Corruption and Ag-gag: In Iowa, many corporate supporters of ag-gag also made major contributions to key legislators. As the Des Moines Register notes:
The National Institute on Money in State Politics has found that almost 10 percent of the $8.9 million Gov. Terry Branstad raised in his most recent campaign came from the agriculture industry. And almost $8,000 — more than one-fourth of all the campaign money raised in 2010 by Sen. Joe Seng of Davenport, a self-proclaimed moderate Democrat who led discussion on the bill — came from the ag sector, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog group. And almost $8,000 — more than one-fourth of all the campaign money raised in 2010 by Sen. Joe Seng of Davenport, a self-proclaimed moderate Democrat who led discussion on the bill — came from the ag sector, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog group.
2. Ag-Gag Crime and Punishment: Governor Gary Herbert signed the Ag-Gag Bill in Utah today. It is a pernicious and draconian bill with stiff punishments for violators, such as a year in prison for filming animal abuse. (Source)

3. Protecting the Abusers: Who do Ag-Gaq laws protect? Cody Carlson of the Humane Society of the United States tells us exactly who these laws protect:

They protect guys like Billy Jo Gregg, a dairy worker who was convicted of six counts of animal cruelty in 2010 after being caught punching, kicking, and stabbing restrained cows and calves at an Ohio farm. They protect the North Carolina Department of Agriculture official who recently pled guilty to obstruction of justice after tipping a Butterball turkey plant off to a police investigation. The investigation, based on Mercy For Animals' undercover footage, also resulted in seven arrests for felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty. Perhaps most egregiously, the Ag Gag laws also protect the slaughterhouses that regularly send sick and dying animals into our food supply, and would prevent some of the biggest food safety recalls in U.S. history. (Source)

4. Bob Barker Fights the Good Fight (Again): Former Price is Right host Bob Barker has been heroically campaigning against Ag-Gag, most recently in Missouri. As he noted: "Missouri lawmakers must realize that consumers are demanding better treatment of animals used for food, not the agriculture industry to cover up illegal acts and penalize those who try to expose routine cruelty."

5. Hiding the Truth: What are Ag-Gag laws trying to hide? In the case of Iowa, Florida animal welfare advocate Cheryl Hanna points out:

Iowa, the leading state for pork and egg production are no strangers to agriculture investigations in the past. The Iowa Select investigation in 2011, revealed egregious animal handling conditions and treatment of pigs. The state produces 19 million pigs a year confining the female sows in metal crates no larger than their own bodies. Undercover video by Mercy for Animals representatives revealed piglets having their tails cut off with dull scissors and castrated with out painkillers. Pigs were shown beaten, stepped on, living in filthy conditions - many with open sores and festering wounds.

Also leading the country in egg production with 54 million egg laying chickens, Mercy for Animals also led the undercover investigation in 2009 of Hy-Line Hatchery which hatches more than 300,000 chicks a day. Never before had the world seen undercover video of unwanted male chicks thrown into grinding machines while still alive. Male chicks are killed shortly after they hatch because they cannot produce eggs and grow too slowly to be efficiently raised for food.

And one of the latest investigations to air on national television 20/20 showed undercover video of Sparboe Farms in three states including Iowa where thousands upon thousands of chickens live in battery cages unable to even spread their wings. For their entire lives, after they have had their beaks and claws burned or cut off to prevent injury to other birds, all they do is lay eggs. The video showed unsanitary conditions, dead birds rotting, flies swarming, and the presence of rodents - all a preamble to salmonella, a dangerous and deadly health threat to humans. (Source)

6. Screw Free Speech: The Ag-Gag laws violate our freedom of speech. Mark Kende, law professor and director of Constitutional Law at Iowa's Drake University, has pointed out that Ag-Gag laws represent a form of "prior restraint," which is a preemptive attempt to halt free speech before it is actually carried out. "This sounds like it has elements of prior restraint and that's troubling. The framers of the U.S. Constitution were very hostile to anything that snapped at prior restraints." (Source)

7. When the Word "Protection" Loses All Meaning: In a further Orwellian bastardization of the English language, the murderous American pork industry actually uses the term "Ag Protection" to describe the numerous bills cropping up across the United States. "The only thing that the law attempts to gag are false pretenses used by some to gain access to farms." Could it be that false pretenses are necessary because factory farms and slaughterhouses are so fiercely guarded and would they would never allow whistleblowers inside of their facilities?

8. Revenge of the Pink Slime: Ag-Gag bills will keep food production shrouded in secrecy. This includes meat that is produced containing so-called "pink slime." As microbiologist Carl Custer, who has worked with the Food Safety Inspection Service for the past 35 years, noted: "It's not meat. We call it Soylent Pink."

9. Nothing New: Ag-Gag is nothing new. Kansas was the first state to adopt an Ag-Gag law in 1990, followed by Montana and North Dakota in 1991. The recent rash of Ag-Gag bills being passed across the United States represent a revival of a terrible trend that began 22 years ago. Iowa and Utah are the most recent states to pass Ag-Gag legislation, and bills have been introduced in legislatures in numerous other states, including Illinois, New York, Minnesota and New York.

10. The biggest victims of these bills are the animals. But a close second is the truth. As Andrew Cohen so eloquently, so beautifully, notes in The Atlantic: "Every journalist, every advocate, every person who believes in the idea that 'sunlight is the best disinfectant,' every advocate of transparency, and every person who cares about what they eat ought to be concerned by these laws. Put another way: If these industries need this much special protection from the collection of truthful images then it's awful to imagine what's happening to some of the animals who live in those places the cameras have not yet found."

1 comment:

  1. I am more offended by the absolute ignoring of the constitution than almost anything (except how those assholes treat our fellow animals). These sorts of "laws" are so totalitarian and repugnant yet I guarantee you most that support them wrap themselves in the flag and squawk "patriotism" at the drop of a hat. Frightening and dismaying.