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Doris Lin

Bills to Ban Undercover Factory Farming Videos Moving Ahead in Iowa and Florida

By March 23, 2011

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One of the best tools the animal protection movement has against factory farming is the truth, and a picture is worth a thousand words. But special interests are trying to take those tools away from activists in Iowa and Florida by trying to ban the making of undercover factory farming videos.

Iowa: In Iowa, H.F.589 creates the crime of "animal facility interference" for shooting a photo or video without the facility owner's consent, and "animal facility fraud" for those who obtain employment at a farm for the purpose of shooting undercover photos and videos. Supporters of the Iowa bill claim that the videos are frequently staged and that trespassers shooting undercover videos will spread diseases to the livestock. Trespass laws already address the problem of trespassers, and if the videos are staged, why should anyone care about undercover videos? The bill has already passed the House in Iowa, and will go to the Senate next. Matt Rice of Mercy for Animals points out:

Legislation should focus on strengthening animal cruelty laws, not prosecuting those who blow the whistle on animal abuse . . . If producers truly cared about animal welfare, they would offer incentives to whistleblowers, install cameras at these facilities to expose and prevent animal abuse, and they would work to strengthen animal abuse laws to prevent animals from needless suffering.

What you can do in Iowa: Iowa residents can contact their state senators, and ask them to oppose H.F.589. You can find your Iowa state legislators here, along with their contact information. The Humane Society of the US recommends making a phone call first, then following up with an email. If you're in a hurry, you can use their webform.

Florida: In Florida, S.B.1246 was introduced to prohibit farm photography without the owner's consent. It was quickly called unconstitutional, but a new version of the bill has just passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The new version has exceptions for law enforcement and other government agents, and now specifies that the photographer must enter the property without the owner's consent to be in violation of the law. And a violation is now a misdemeanor, and no longer a first degree felony. These changes address some of the concerns about the original bill, but Jeff Kerr, an attorney for PETA, believes the new version is still unconstitutional.

Bottom line? Whether or not it's unconstitutional, these bills†are wrong and dangerous because criminalizing the making of undercover videos protects the animal abusers and hides illegal activity from the public. These bills would also prohibit journalists from shooting undercover videos, and even prohibit the farms' own employees from making undercover videos of animal cruelty, unsafe work conditions and other illegal activity.

What you can do in Florida: Contact your state senators and state representatives, and ask them to oppose S.B.1246.

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Comments

March 23, 2011 at 6:50 am
(1) veganelder says:

I will be mightily impressed at the citizenry if after swallowing the “Patriot Act”, the “Animal Enterprise Terrorist Act”, secret searches, torture, secret imprisonment and on and on without sustained and effective protestation and resistance….are willing to rise up and prevent the “legalizing” of the secret torture and abusing of fellow animals.

That would really be hope inspiring.

March 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm
(2) amalia savelli says:

I am completely outraged of the bill that is possible passing in Iowa and Florida. Of coarse they want to stop filming to hide their brutality against the innocent animals that continue to nourish and sustain us. Can people who don’t live in Florida or Iowa do anything? Why is it a continual battle to just be humane to the way the animals live and die. I will continue to educate everyone I know. I own a dog grooming business and one would be surprised how much this issue is on people’s mind. I think its a big mistake for the agriculture business to not realize this.

March 25, 2011 at 8:20 pm
(3) Dee says:

Way to go Florida and Iowa, way to go to try and pass such an inhumane, sickening and disgusting bill. What do all the big guys have in all this to want it passed? After knowing for years and watching such horrible cruelty, how can anyone THINK of passing laws on the whistleblowers!! Does anyone actually realize how badly these caged up animals are abused, probed with pitch forks and shoveled till they scream in pain! Now don’t get me wrong, I know there are great farmers out there and surely I would HOPE they could join in to not get this bill passed. Oy..I could go on and on.

Let’s ban together and give animals the rights they deserve and help uncover these neglectful caretakers! Bring it whistleblowers! We NEED YOU!

March 26, 2011 at 6:20 am
(4) Sharon says:

I am amazed at people, really what make one think that they have the right to trespass on someone else’s property. There are people everywhere without jobs and you people think you have the right to destroy a person’s live and their way of making a living. You also think that the LAW should protect you, How many of you are perfect in your life, how would you like to be secretly filmed during your daily routines and then published to the world. And yes I believe that for the most part these films are staged. What would you think of someone befriending you and then filming your life and publishing that?

March 30, 2011 at 9:50 am
(5) Diane says:

I am appalled at the comments on this site. Do any of you actually live on a farm? Do you live in Iowa? Do you personally know a farmer? If you answered no to ANY of these questions then you have no right to make a comment about the Iowa bill until you have visited a farm, talked to the farmer and toured the farm to see how it is run. I know that if you were secretly filmed and then it placed on T.V. or the internet you would feel violated, angry and want that person punished. Talk to an Iowa farmer, get to know them and their way of living. I know that you would be very surprised on how well run it is and how much farmers care for their livestock.

April 1, 2011 at 1:27 am
(6) Jesica says:

I am from MI. and currently live in Az. I have been around animals and livestock in one way or another most of my life.
A FARM is usually much different than a slaughter house operation.
If everything is “ok” at these operations as some claim, what’s the problem w/ filming??
It’s because they are using inhumane and illegal practices and they want to hide their deeds.
As far as I know we Americans still have some rights that corporate interests have yet to vote away.
If these laws are passed, it will one more freedom we are losing.
Wake up people.

April 1, 2011 at 1:39 am
(7) Luke Thomas says:

PLEASE SIGN PETITIONS HERE:
http://www.change.org/petitions/fl-sb1246-farms-covers-up-illegal-farming-practices-endangering-public-safety?%3Fopt_new=f&opt_fb=t#?opt_new=f&opt_fb=t

AND HERE:

http://www.change.org/petitions/iowa-secret-farms-bill-covers-up-illegal-farming-practices-endangering-public-safety#?opt_new=f&opt_fb=t

FL SB1246 – farms – covers up illegal farming practices endangering public safety

Your Honor:

Florida SB 1246 (Farms) would make it a felony for anybody to photograph or video record illegal acts in farms thereby making it impossible to report to law enforcement. This bill means, literally, “Protecting farmers so they may use downer cows and illegal or banned chemicals to feed to the public act”. Also protects acts of animal cruelty, even using gestation crates which has been banned by our Florida Constitution. As long as these farmers sell to the public WE HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW if they are poisoning us or not, or feeding us downer cows.

Please protect our us and our children-say NO to SB 1246 – farms.

Without photos or videos, there would be no evidence, and the sky is the limit what farmers can do with unethical, dangerous, and illegal practices.

Government inspections are announced giving farmers ample time to cover up their illegal activities.

Thank you for your time and reading.

Sincerely,

April 2, 2011 at 2:50 am
(8) Linda Field says:

This is really BS.,all you are doing is protecting the sick people who commit these inhumane acts of cruelty! They should be the ones getting charged with a felony!It’s bad enough the animal has to die for human food,they have to be tortured first.I have seen many videos and besides sobbing it tells me how cruel humans can be,and it disgusts me that these people go on doing this with no punishment.(the screaming the animals do is not faked,its real)There are Humane ways to kill an animal!These people are getting their jollies by torturing,and taunting,how do they sleep at night.To the Farmers out there doing what needs to be done in a supervised proper way I salute you,as it is not an easy job to take a Life.If a farmer has nothing to hide,then they would not object to filming,it’s the big companies,who don’t give a darn,except making money,that should be fined if and when they find out an employee is doing these terrible things!They are sick people,and need help,to think they are walking around children and other humans.I have been on farms,they are hard working people,and without them this country would be lost,we are talking about something else here,we are talking abuse,neglect,torture,murder of a living thing!Film away,if they have nothing to hide then why object.I worked where I was on security camera 12hrs a day,if I had something to hide I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be filmed,so whats the problem.All these facilities should have cameras 24/7 so that if they see anything,they can dismiss the fool doing wrong.Animals can’t speak for themselves,someone has to speak for them!PS.the people making these films are no worse then an undercover cop,all facilities should be filmed for protection for themselves and the animals.Inspections are made at restaurants un-announced all the time,do it there too!Enough said~

April 2, 2011 at 3:01 am
(9) Linda Field says:

AS AN AMERICAN CITIZEN I THINK I HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON AT THESE PLACES THAT RAISE,AND KILL ANIMALS FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.ALL THESE FACILITIES SHOULD HAVE VIDEO CAMERAS,JUST LIKE OTHER BUSINESS PLACES DO.JUST BECAUSE AN ANIMAL IS DESTINED TO DIE DOESN’T GIVE ANYONE THE RIGHT TO MISTREAT/TORTURE!

April 2, 2011 at 9:57 am
(10) Dave R says:

ďif the videos are staged, why should anyone care about undercover videos?Ē

Because most people donít know that most of these videos are staged, and you canít make them know or stop caring if they donít want to.

You canít very well mandate knowledge or caring, but you can create further deterrents against specific kinds of libel and slander like this.

Like you even point out yourself, there are laws against trespassing, but the criminals still do it. This is just further deterrent; something more to make them stop and think about whether their end justifies their means.

April 6, 2011 at 2:03 am
(11) doris says:

Dave, if the videos are staged, why haven’t the factory farms come out and said, “This is staged.” I’m not aware of a single factory farm that said that the undercover video shot at their farm is staged.

The only people claiming they are staged are legislators and industry spokespeople who don’t want to look like they’re covering something up by banning undercover videos.

And why hasn’t a single factory farm sued PETA, Mercy for Animals or HSUS for slander or libel based on these videos?

Are you actually telling me that chickens are not debeaked and kept in battery cages? That male chickens are not killed at hatcheries? That calves are not confined in crates for their entire short lives before being turned into veal? You’re telling me that most or all of these videos are staged by activists who go through the elaborate charade of setting up thousands of battery cages full of hens just to film them?

Claiming that the videos are staged is a new ploy to try to cover up animal cruelty.

April 15, 2011 at 12:38 pm
(12) Rebecca says:

For those getting outraged on behalf of farmers, I have this to say–there is a HUGE difference between farmers and these giant agribusiness factory farms. Yes, I do know farmers–and they DO care about their animals. They also allow their animals to free graze and range, and they treat their animals with antibiotics only when they are actually sick. Real farmers DON’T overcrowd their animals in filthy conditions so that they have to be pumped full of the SAME antibiotics we use on humans (which is why we’re starting to see antibiotic resistant diseases) constantly just to keep them alive, they DON’T beat, drag, pull, cut, punch, etc their animals, and so on. Make no mistake it is these big business factory farms who are the ones that these laws will protect. If you actually care about farmers, you’d be against this bill, because they and their practices are being destroyed by agribusiness. An undercover video at a real farmer’s farm would reveal well taken care of, healthy animals. Anyone who believes the average “farm” their food comes from gives a crap about their animals is an idiot who isn’t doing their research–modern large-scale farming has changed a TON in the past several decades, and it is no longer anything like the images of rolling fields and red barns we still see on the product packaging.

April 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm
(13) Diane says:

The farm factories are hiding horrendous practices and damaging our food supply. From the top down someone is hiding something! They have no regard for animals. They have feelings too. As usual the baseline is greed. Every way man can make a buck they will regardless what happens to the animals involved. I am sick to my stomach!

September 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm
(14) Jan says:

It sickens me when I see the pictures and videos that have been made available to the public. I think it’s important the everyone really knows what kind of treatment that the animals endure. It’s appalling!!! There are responsable farmers that truly care about the animals in there care. But the factory farms are the worst businesses there is. If I had a job that animals were being abused then I would rather not have a job. And that place would be reported. If you agree with laws that protect people like this then you must be one of the sick, demented people out there. I would rather never eat meat again than to allow the abuse on the gifts that the Lord has given us. They were not given to torture and abuse. They deserve to be treated humanly!!!! Some people seem to be more worried about thier jobs than what crulity is happening around them. Maybe these businesses will go out of business if people just stopped buying from them and walked out on them. Please blow the whistle on these people!!!!

January 7, 2012 at 4:45 pm
(15) BB (California Bay Area) says:

How bout you start firing the people who are doing the abusing? You won’t allow news reporters or writers to visit your farms and don’t want anyone filming so it is obvious that you’re hiding the cruelty. People need to know what’s going on. Some people do care.

July 9, 2013 at 9:12 pm
(16) Grace MacGuire says:

If you have nothing to hide why would you object!
If you were following the animal welfare guidelines and adhearing to the animal welfare act and the inspectors are doing their job what’s the problem with a camera documenting your every move?
The public has a right to know just how that animal product arrives on their plate!

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