Mo. Senate passes diluted “ag-gag” bill

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The Missouri Senate passed a bill (SB 631) late Thursday aimed at strengthening agriculture law, and while the bill may be a far cry from the “ag-gag” bill passed by state House of Representatives, it protects many aspects of the state’s agricultural industry, including a time limit for reporting photos and video of animal abuse.

The Senate voted 25-5 for the final passage of the bill, which was reported by Food Safety News as a “grab-bag” bill containing dozens of separate agricultural measures.

Under the new law, anyone with photos or video of animal abuse or neglect would have 24 hours to report it to law enforcement. Originally, the bill approved by the state House (HB 1860) in April would have criminalized undercover videos and prevented animal rights activists from lying on job applications or using false pretenses to gain access to a livestock farm or facility.

Similar laws were passed in Iowa and Utah this year. However, “ag-gag” bills were killed in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, and Tennessee. If SB 1680 is not brought up before today’s adjournment, Missouri will be added to that list.  

SB 631 is an expansive agriculture bill, addressing many industry-related issues including:

  • trespassing, both in definition and penalty;
  • rights of property owner to repel a trespasser using “justifiable force;"
  • biodiesel incentive payments;
  • agriculture education in private schools;
  • a right to raise livestock in conformance with state and local laws; and
  • load limits on roadways.

Read a summary of the bill here.

Ag-protection bills are not unique to this generation. Kansas, North Dakota and Montana passed earlier version of “ag-gag” laws two decades ago. There is no record of these laws being used.

Speak out: Do you think “ag-gag” laws hurt or help agriculture?

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Chicago  |  May, 18, 2012 at 05:10 PM

This type of restriction on animal abuse exposure makes it obvious that they don't want the public to see what is REALLY going on inside of these factory farming facilities. Why a 24 hour hour cap? Is the footage no longer considered as abusive? If people were to witness the atrocities that really go on inside these sheds, the close confinements of animals in gestation crates, battery-cages, and the horrible treatment that they receive from workers, then we would think twice of what's going on our plate and into our bodies. I know I do.

VA  |  May, 18, 2012 at 07:06 PM

And when PETA was killing shelter animals and dumping their bodies in dumpsters in Norfolk, I am certain you'd be in favour of the 24 hr limit. It cuts both ways. It's reasonable for the public to ask if the footage you mention is even real half the time, or just an activist with photoshop and spare time. I do think it's imperative that Ag not create an atmosphere of trying to "hide" but in the same breath, farmers deserve reasonable protection under the law (including due process) from a group with an obvious agenda that is anti any animal agriculture.

MO  |  May, 21, 2012 at 05:36 AM

People who oppose the abuse of animals oppose what PETA did as well. (Those people were arrested and tried - as it should be.) If farmers in general are acting properly, they have nothing to fear. Recent HSUS footage at a hog facility showed identifiable employees hitting, dragging, and otherwise abusing livestock. Those people should be prosecuted. That footage wasn't faked. Let's be real: the 24 hour limit makes it difficult to establish a pattern of abuse. My question is why the "good farmers" apparently don't want the "bad farmers" prosecuted. Why do they want their reputation sullied?

Ohio  |  May, 21, 2012 at 08:38 AM

Yes Emma a recent HSUS video did show unacceptable behavior and those people should be prosecuted. Then again the animal care and welfare experts also reviewed a previous HSUS video and found no unacceptable behavior. The care was fully appropiate. Some of it just was not pretty. Kind of like watching a child birth video or close up pictures of a bad car accident or a surgery. So why did they make that video? When producers remove gestation stalls and sows fight and rip each other up with blood all over - I assure you HSUS will not make a video of that.

Terry Ward    
Pa  |  May, 21, 2012 at 04:25 PM

The loonie Humanewatchers yet again try to pull out the PETA-piñata to whack when this has zilch to do with Peta and EVERYTHING to do with bad farmers desiring to hide their bad practices from the public. Very ugly creatures lurk in shadows ...for a reason.

Texas  |  May, 22, 2012 at 12:58 PM

It's IRRITATING when today's "journalists" CAN't keep the FACTS straight within the SAME news "story" article! e.g.: "If SB 1680 is not brought up before today’s adjournment, Missouri will be added to that list." It's SB 631 and HB 1860 versus the NON-EXISTENT (as of today for the 2012 session) SB1680. An apparent TOTAL LACK OF ANY COPYEDITING or EDITORIAL oversight! REAL PROFESSIONALS?

Lincoln, NE  |  May, 31, 2012 at 03:51 PM

One of the problems I have with the undercover videos is their inherent bias. First, we get only video selected by the takers. Its like showing an airplane accident and representing that as the norm but failing to film the 100,000 flights that took off and landed without incident. Secondly, the filmers are in complete control of the editing, and the videos completely lack context. Third, the activists define what is and isnt cruelty. I grew up on a small farm with a few sows, and one time we had a veterinarian tie one up by the snout like the recent undercover video to help immobilize it to examine and treat it. We get no explanation for the reason the hog was tied up that way, just an assumption that this is abnormal and inhumane. There may be a legitimate reason for it. Additionally, almost every action in that video I have observed on the small farms inthe area I grew up in. Finally, I don't accept that PETA, HSUS and others are the guardians of ethics in agriculture.

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