A bill that was introduced in Florida this spring by Senator Jim Norman (R-Tampa) that would make it a felony to take photos or videos of “a farm or other property where legitimate agriculture operations are being conducted without the written consent of the owner,” was shot down.
The “Ag Gag” bill was directed at both whistle-blowers who go undercover to document the cruelty that animals on farms suffer, as well as anyone who wants to just snap a shot while standing on the side of the road. Documenters would have been left facing criminal charges, while abusers would be left unaccountable.
The bill was openly promoted by agribusiness on the basis that it would somehow improve animal welfare and protect family farms, while also deterring trespassers. In reality, all it would have done was keep what happens on farms hidden from the public and allow the agriculture industry to turn the tables and call those who are catching them in the act of abusing animals eco-terrorists. Additionally, we already have laws that deal with trespassing, theft and destruction of property.
Undercover videos from organizations such as Mercy for Animals and the HSUS that open the doors to otherwise closed facilities and prompt thought, debate and reform regarding the treatment and use of animals in agriculture would have been swept under the rug.
While this is a victory for the First Amendment and animals, similar bills are still pending in Iowa and Minnesota.
Sign the petition asking the Minnesota House of Representatives not to allow a bill that would criminalize documenting cruelty become a law.
Sign the petition asking the Iowa Senate not to pass this bill in any form.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/anijdam/