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More States Want to Punish People Reporting Animal Abuse

More States Want to Punish People Reporting Animal Abuse

The new year has brought new legislative attempts by Nebraska, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Arkansas and Indiana to silence those who attempt to bring animal cruelty at factory farms into the public eye.

In New Hampshire, HB 110 will require anyone who records cruelty to livestock to report it within 24 hours. In Wyoming, HB 0126 will make taking pictures or audio recordings a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $750 fine, in addition to requiring people to report abuse within 48 hours.

In Nebraska, LB 240 will make it so that anyone who obtains work under false pretenses and causes more than $100,000 in economic damages or serious bodily harm will face felony charges. Nebraska also intends to institute a 24 hour reporting requirement.

The reporting requirements may seem like a good idea, but they will prevent anyone from documenting repeated acts of cruelty or showing patterns of abuse.

Arkansas is considering two bills SB 13 and SB 14, which will make it illegal to take image and audio recordings, in addition to making an investigation by anyone other than a law enforcement officer a Class B misdemeanor with the potential for a fine of up to $5,000. The bills in Indiana, SB 373 and SB 391, will make it illegal to take photos or videos at agricultural operations and will require the Indiana Board of Animal Health to maintain a record of offenses.

Undercover videos from organizations such as Mercy for Animals and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have played an important role in exposing not only egregious abuse and unsanitary living conditions that farm animals are forced to endure, but have also drawn attention to standard industry practices that don’t seem to fit into the mainstream idea of humane treatment of animals and in some cases have resulted in criminal charges and new laws.

In 2004, an undercover investigation conducted by the Humane Farming Association resulted in the forced closing of the HKY Inc. hog farm in Nebraska.

Wyoming’s bill was introduced only weeks after nine workers were charged with animal cruelty at Wyoming Premium Farms, a supplier to Tyson Foods, following an undercover investigation by the HSUS.

The HSUS’s undercover investigation of Westland Hallmark Meat Co. conducted in 2008 brought horrific abuse to light that resulted in one of the largest meat recalls in U.S. history, in addition to the largest settlement ever for a case involving animal cruelty.

Unfortunately, North Dakota, Kansas and Montana passed laws in the early 1990s that make it a misdemeanor to enter facilities that are closed to the public or to take photographs and audio/video recordings.

Utah, Iowa and Missouri joined these states when they enacted ag gag legislation last year, while similar bills failed in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Nebraska and Tennessee.

These laws are dangerous, not only for the animals who suffer behind closed doors, but also because they  pose threats to food safety, free speech, the environment and our ability to make educated food choices.

According to a poll conducted by the ASPCA, 71 percent of Americans support undercover investigative efforts by animal advocacy organizations, while 64 percent oppose making undercover investigations of animal abuse illegal.

“We are very encouraged that the public recognizes the importance of these investigations and the threats that ag-gag bills pose to American values,” said Suzanne McMillan, director of the ASPCA’s farm animal welfare campaign. “Americans deserve to know where their food comes from and how it is produced, and the industry should welcome that transparency.

Yet, despite opposition from the general public, animal advocates and consumer groups, Big Ag continues to try to hide its illegal and unethical activities from the public, instead of taking responsibility for them.

Related Stories:

Second State Silences Whistleblowers

Victory! New York and Iowa Ag Gag Bills Die

Florida’s Ag Gag Bill Reintroduced

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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355 comments

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6:49AM PDT on Oct 19, 2013

No if the meat market and other trades involving animals were above board and just killed the "products" humanely and outright their wouldn't have the problem. Even if animals are going to the meat trade then the animals in question should be treat humanely ,after all the greedy trader IS gaining cash from the cruel deaths of the animals. Never stop the "informers" doing what should not be happening in the meat or any other death of animals trade .The men at the top KNOWS what goes on but is softened with a cash "shhhhh" All of them are greedy ,heartless ,money grabbing,lot of scum .And if there was nothing t hide ,and that's what these lot don't like. benig made public, so the body that can protect the and keep covered the top dogs in government.I have seen undercover footage and the cruelty is barbaric, vile, agonising cruelty. And the traders should be closed down for ever ,not trading in other names banned for life.The govering bodies are covering even more so why have and pay them?for a job that isn't being done. make the informers legal and yearly random checks in these HELL HOLES.

7:02AM PDT on Jul 17, 2013

No, don't let this happen. Abuse on animals should not be hidden. That could cause more possible deaths. Get this off the table now.

10:06PM PDT on Jun 29, 2013

The Ag business is concerned about losing profits. In that case they should have an open policy and make sure that no animal abuse happens in their business.
That would be good for them, good for the public and good for the consumers.
In any case, it is time to start winding down the meet business. It is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

10:00PM PDT on May 9, 2013

This is absolutely ludicrous! Of course documentation of animal abuse and neglect should be provided to the authorities! If these abusers don't feel they are doing anything wrong, why are they so intent on hiding their actions!?!?

10:00PM PDT on May 9, 2013

petition signed

1:58PM PDT on May 9, 2013

Who does not respect the animals, did not truly respect people. Cruelty is a vileness

9:48AM PDT on May 9, 2013

What the F*&$ how strange that doesn't make sense what they trying to hide?

5:12PM PDT on May 7, 2013

Voting? Guess what....our votes don't count. You know our voting system is a sham. These politicians have it all wrapped up. Businesses support them & protect them & they vote in favor of business...no matter who suffers so long as it isn't the politicians or businesses they protect.

7:04AM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

CORRECTION: make that purpose not prupose. Sorry.

7:03AM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

Check voting track records of those coming up for reelection. Then vote with prupose so we don't wind up owning it again.

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