Ag-Gag Laws & Puppy Mills, Gutting Animal Protection

by Mary Haight on April 30, 2013

ag-gag lawsAmending the Humane Act to work against itself is the new popular pursuit of a particular group of Republicans. This is not a political statement, merely a factual one. These Ag-Gag laws (ag = agricultural) criminalize gathering proof of animal abuse in the only way available to build a case, and that is going under cover as an employee in a factory farm or puppy mill. Without the use of this strategy, you cannot gather enough evidence of repeated abuse to warrant a court case.

This 1st Amendment assault is meant as a companion to the Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act, designed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to shut down pursuit of proof of animal abuse by threat of being charged with Terrorism. It smacks of the same dishonest tactics used to win elections when a party is unelectable…gerrymandering and excluding voters from voting.

A similar concept was applied by Big Agriculture to squash criticism of crops and, something Oprah will probably never forget, meat, husbandry, slaughter, and packaging, calling comments like “I’ll never touch another hamburger” defamatory. Apparently the concept of being defamatory trumps truth-telling. What was said about meat were facts. Make no mistake, these laws are intended to close the doors on free speech, the press, forgoing any notion of transparency. They are the final step in unraveling animal protection laws mentioned here in a April 2011 post.

The likes of ALEC and their ilk want to ensure consumers know little about the food they feed their families as evidenced by their legislative demands to Congress. Slaughtering practices that lead to e coli and salmonella outbreaks will be kept private, and in the case of puppy factory farms, if ALEC successfully seals their agenda in law, mills will be able to operate with impunity. Animal welfare will not be a consideration because the only agents in charge of protecting animals will be the USDA. How has that worked out for animals so far?

Many dairy, cattle, pork, poultry, soy and corn farmers not practicing sustainable and/or organic farming models are aligned with ALEC, as is Monsanto according to Huffington Post’s Aly Miller. This is not a new issue. It started in Kansas in 2000 which made undercover videotaping and photographing at farms a crime. If you look, you’ll see a history of these bills being brought up for vote, voted down, enacted then immediately rescinded in several States. Seven States have enacted Ag-Gag laws, six are pending and three have withdrawn according to the Huffington Post article.

Illinois has a proposed Ag-Gag law in the House. Republican State Senator Chapin Rose has sponsored SB1532 to amend the Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act to gift the Department of Agriculture with the power to refer any complaint it determines as not valid to the State’s Attorney for criminal charges. This is the same Senator who co-sponsored a bill to bring back horse slaughter to Illinois, restrict certain types of horse meat from regulation and repeal restrictions on horse meat for human consumption. (IL residents, Rose can be reached through is website, just in case you had something you want to share with him.)

Do you have similar bills pending in your State? If you have experience fighting this legislation – please share.

Further Reading:

NYTimes Taping of Farm Cruelty

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