“Ag-gag” laws in the news

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Several recent news items have brought new attention to farm-protection legislation known as “ag-gag” laws, adopted in several states to protect farmers and ranchers from clandestine activities of animal-rights activists. ag Gag

In Idaho last week, the state’s Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter signed a bill imposing fines and potential jail time for people recording unauthorized videos at agricultural facilities.

The bill was proposed in response to a 2012 incident in which the animal-rights group Mercy for Animals released video footage showing employees at an Idaho dairy abusing cows.

Quoted in an Associated Press article, Otter, who is a rancher, said the measure "is about agriculture producers being secure in their property and their livelihood."

In Colorado meanwhile, one of the defendants in an abuse case stemming from a similar video pleaded guilty to animal cruelty. According to news reports, 34-year-old Ernesto Daniel Valenzuela-Alvarez, who worked at the Quanah Cattle Co. near Kersey, entered his plea Friday and is scheduled to be sentenced April 29. Two other employees of the dairy face similar charges in the case.

In this case, an activist with the animal-rights group “Compassion over Killing” recorded video footage of abuse incidents while working as a temporary employee at the dairy.

This case is the first in which the activist was charged with a crime for not reporting the abuse in a timely manner. In several of these incidents, animal-rights groups have delayed release of their videos until well after the abuse occurs, in order to collect more evidence and create a greater impact on public opinions. The “ag-gag’ laws typically include provisions requiring immediate reporting of abuse to farm management and/or law enforcement.

The activist in this case, Taylor Radig, taped the videos between July and September but did not turn them over to authorities until November, after she had left her job at the dairy. Initially, Weld County investigators charged Radig with being complicit in the abuse based on her delay in reporting it. The District Attorney’s Office however has since dismissed the charges believing they could not prove them beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Bea Elliott    
Florida  |  March, 04, 2014 at 09:34 AM

"Awareness is bad for the meat business. Conscience is bad for the meat business. Sensitivity to life is bad for the meat business. DENIAL (and secrecy), however, the meat business finds indispensable." -John Robbins, Diet for a New America

March, 04, 2014 at 01:00 PM

So how sensitive and conscientious is it to videotape abuse over weeks even months, then hold on to and edit that film for months to provide a more impactful video to garner donations to so called animal right terrorist organizations like the H$U$ and PETA?

iowa  |  March, 04, 2014 at 04:10 PM

dear Bea Elliot.My cattle are on pasture 24 hrs a day 365 in iowa for all to see. plainly visible from major highways. If that is your idea of "denial & secrecy" you are truly lacking any kind of intelligence. I feel for you i really do.

iowa  |  March, 04, 2014 at 04:15 PM

Also the Harris ranch is a popular destination and clearly visible to the public as they travel from LA to San Francisco. Very public operation. Were the terrorists who set fire to the place and put life in danger acting in good conscience or having any sensitivity to life? Obviously not. The irony of people commiting terrorist acts and then trying to hide behind words like you have quoted is laughable were it not so dangerous & tragic.

Utah  |  March, 04, 2014 at 05:16 PM

Yeah, but the law that they tried to pass here in Utah made it a crime if I accidentally got one of your cows in my pictures that I took of the flower or antelope or whatever. I think a little common sense is in order here.

March, 04, 2014 at 11:37 PM

Otter has fallen off his horse and whacked his head one too many times. When one of the largest processors in your state publicly asks for you not to sign such a gag law (that alone cost their brand!), smart leaders would realize that the processor has a better read on consumer response and thus the law's adverse economic impact on the primary industry than do those producers. But, what the heck, they want they law and you're up for re-election, so give it to em and get their money. By the time your supporters figure out the downside, you'll be re-elected and can ride in to rescue them from their stupidity. But, in the meantime the lawsuits will make lawyers wealthy and keep the issue in the press over and over and over. If you don't believe me, go read Charlie Arnot's work with the Center for Food Integrity. http://www.foodintegrity.org/ And he's on our side.

IL  |  March, 05, 2014 at 08:44 AM

It's sad that a person video tapes abuse, Lets it go on for months. Encourages the abuse. Edits the tapes to show they had nothing to due with the abuse. (in fact they encouraged it) Then want to take it to the public for money. They are as Guilty as the abuser.

new york  |  March, 05, 2014 at 11:15 AM

So than maybe every business should be fully open to the public. Bea maybe the public should be able to show up at your door and demand to be let in all in the name of transparency. I am sure if I showed up at Apple or Microsoft I would not be allowed to run free through the halls. Do you the the President would allow anyone to walk into the oval office? What do you think would happen if you walked into a kitchen at a restaurant uninvited?

ri  |  March, 05, 2014 at 12:34 PM

No one who treats their animals well needs an ag-gag law!

corrine wynne    
March, 07, 2014 at 09:16 AM

So in response to.Ag gag. Yes, every incident should be immediately reported, but then you would fire or reprimand the reporter, so people should just report every single incident until the abuse is a stack of punishable.crimes dont worry, abusers repeat offenses, its proven fact.

SD  |  March, 09, 2014 at 11:04 PM

Fortunately, abuse of food animals is very rare. Producers of food animals know that animals have to be comfortable, properly cared for, and content or they will not be profitable. Making a profit farming if very difficult at best, given the 1.5 to 3% return on investment, so it would be really stupid to abuse animals. The fact is, most farmers like animals and enjoy seeing them contented. Until we realize that the people who profit from making claims of abuse, and who start with a premise that using animals for any purpose, whether as pets, or as food, is wrong, will not stop their actions until there are no food animals allowed, we cannot adequately counter their generally false claims. We need to start from our position of strength that animals are a valid, safe, and useful food for humans, period.

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