The push to for states to pass farm protection bills, dubbed “ag-gag” by animal activists, is growing, and five states are currently debating measures to restrict undercover reporting at farms and ranches.
According to a report by Food Safety News, one of the common trends in this year’s push for farm protection measures revolves around reporting abuse within a timely fashion. In Nebraska and New Hampshire, for example, the proposed bills provide a 24-hour reporting window. Read, “Common Element for 2013′s “Ag-Gag” Bills: Quick Reporting.”
Proposed measures to protect farms and ranches include
- Arkansas: Two bills are on the table to protect the state’s farms. The first, SB 13, moves to ensure that livestock producers are investigated only by law enforcement agencies on accusations of animal cruelty. The second, SB 14, would make it a misdemeanor to “interfere” with a livestock or poultry operation and requires anyone who wants to record images or sound to first obtain consent from the owner. It also takes on falsifying job applications to gain employment on a farm or ranch.
- Indiana: Like Arkansas, two farm protection bills have also been proposed. SB 373 would make it illegal to record agricultural or industrial operations. SB 391 takes it one step further by not only making it illegal to record agricultural operations but would require the Indiana Board of Animal Health to maintain a criminal registry of convicted offenders.
- Nebraska: LB 240 would prevent someone from falsifying a job application with the “intent of damaging” an animal facility or causing “economic harm” or “doing serious bodily injury.” In some cases, such as economic damages exceed $100,000 or there is serious bodily injury, felony charges could be considered. It also includes a 24-hour reporting time limit.
- New Hampshire: HB 110 would require anyone with evidence of livestock cruelty to report and submit recordings to law enforcement within 24 hours.
- Wyoming: The state’s HB 0126 would require animal abuse to be reported within 48 hours. It would also make it a misdemeanor to record images or sound on an agricultural operation
However, Emily Metz Meredith with the Animal Agriculture Alliance points that even when abuse reporting is supported, animal activist groups fight them. In another interview with Food Safety News, Meredith says that the reasoning behind their opposition is clear.
“The answer is simple,” Meredith said. “This legislation would destroy any opportunities the above-referenced groups would have to film, photograph or otherwise exploit farmers, ranchers and processors.”
Even agriculture producers question the effectiveness of these “ag-gag” bills. On a poll on porkNetwork, 73 percent of respondents didn’t believe that they would help agriculture. Twenty percent thought that it would. See the poll here.