In May, ag-gag bills came into the national discussion after Bill Haslam, the governor of Tennessee, vetoed a bill on the advice of state Attorney General Bob Chopper because of constitutional issues involving the First Amendment. Halsam related, “There are concerns from some district attorneys that the act actually makes it more difficult to prosecute animal cruelty cases.” The governor was also under pressure from animal-rights groups and celebrities like Carrie Underwood, to veto the bill, and ultimately their request was met.
Besides Tennessee’s vetoed bill, there were bills in California, New Hampshire and New Mexico that did not make it to the Legislature in 2013.
The following comments came from online stories published on dairyherd.com dealing with farm protection bills:
Margie in Nevada says, “The reason the video may be held for a period of time is to establish a long-term pattern of abuse. A onetime event will not be investigated by any agency or governmental department. Only when there is a pattern will investigations happen. The only reason state legislatures are moving to suppress the videos is to suppress the evidence of systemic abuse.”
Amanda in North Carolina stated, “This bill would help animals get help faster, instead of using someone’s mistake to hurt so many people and animals. The majority of farmers are doing the right thing, and it’s time they got credit for it.”
Emma in Missouri related, “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?”
Tammy in Michigan said, “As a dairy farmer I do not want people coming onto my property and recording without permission, but I do not believe any animal should be allowed to be abused. This is a very fine line we are on. I personally do not feel a recession is the right time to be putting extra expense to the food budget of the poor when it is the rich who seem to have the problem with where and how their food is produced.”