Environmentalism – Chapter 42 – Say no to AG-GAG
Counter surveillance operations are normally something that one can rely on in gauging proof and evidence regarding a crime based on primary intelligence or complaints whether it is on public or private property on engaging in over border reconnaissance missions by drone’s, satellites or armed military personal to governmental intelligence seekers and submariners.
However seeking intelligence doesn’t apply to animals no more within the United States of America from which the government have made it a felony in five states for “anyone” to undertake surveillance operations.
Ag-gag laws regarding on land abuse that has been reported to be violating the laws of the Animal Welfare Act or Food Safety Legislation now make it crime to record and document animal abuse or if there is strong enough suspicion to suggest that a crime has or is taking place to public health being placed at serious risk through the mismanagement and deliberate cruelty of agricultural animals.
Ag-Gag laws are in reality protecting “an individual abuser and/or company” from being documented, recorded, photographed to even eavesdropping or “reporting a violation of food safety” by an investigative officer. Ag-gag laws ARE ANIMAL ABUSE!
We must also clear some issues up here too, Ag-Gag doesn’t just infringe on the whistle blower or investigator it has been enacted to silence those within media and journalism from recording, photographing or documenting, printing data, labour issues, and/ or freedom of speech.
So Ag-gag it’s not “just” aimed at the animal activist or employee that has reported previously many violations to then going public with them it’s aimed at anyone that has within the governments eyes had in theory more than enough time to report to the appropriate agencies animal abuse of food violations. The government of the US has categorically protected the criminal in yet “allows paedophiles to be named and shamed” BUT not animal abusers? Something seriously is wrong here if the government allows the naming and shaming of sex offenders yet not the recording of animal abuse. Could it be to loss of income to affecting the nation’s meat and dairy industry?
However Ag-gag laws in turn make the reporter then “the criminal” as the law state’s more or less that you knew and have had plenty of time to take action against the violation[s] thus in turn makes you the whistle blower “the abuser that could of halted it within the set time of 48 hours”. (That is in our eyes unfair and basically in support of repeat cooperate offenders or high profile individuals that are either corrupt or have friends in high places that will just blatantly turn a blind eye to falsifying documents.
The law has also ripped to shreds the first and second amendments of US state legislature. We are all literally being crushed by the oppressor which we believe is for nothing more than money.
We can name two large corporations within the European Union however we are waiting for the correct time in which that “repeat violation” then harms a human or animal of which as yet it hasn’t. (Please don’t think for one moment that that is unprofessional, as we ourselves have reported two [un-named] corporations persistently to the directors and health and safety executive of which we documented what the “individuals” behaviour was upon “five” separate random inspections.
For legal reasons we are not at liberty or allowed to disclose that information regarding the company names however we will state that the “food supplier” is more than involved. It’s directly involved and the violations are being ignored as the companies are short staffed, are under pressure from head offices, have over spent their budget, and have for the past seven years had nothing but poor unprofessional management to high sickness records and falsified “legal binding documentation”.
On one such inspection our investigator reported the violations before the Health and Safety investigators moved in [in-depth] of which when the buildings were inspected staff were automatically “ordered” by management that knew where the violating materials where located and what to instigate to even [keeping the executives talking whilst the issues where covered up] the investigator was ALSO ordered to hide “materials that was not fit for human consumption or even sale”.
So can you see why Ag-gag laws are in fact damaging the welfare of also the human that could potentially become seriously ill or even die should their immune systems be week, or they are old and frail from super food bugs such as E-coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter Enteritis, Cholera, Ciguatera (Fish Poisoning) to even listeria with up to eight more serious food borne virus that can be contained and halted via professional management.
In 2011, bills to prohibit undercover videos of farms were introduced in several state legislatures including Florida, Iowa, Minnesota and New York. These “Ag-gag” laws, a term coined by Mark Bittman, all prohibited the making of undercover videos, photographs and sound recordings, although they differed in terms of penalties and which other activities were also prohibited. None of the bills passed in 2011, but Iowa’s Ag-gag bill passed in 2012 and other Ag-gag bills have been introduced in other states until recently.
On April 30, 2013, the Animal Legal Defence Fund (ALDF) sent a letter to the Animal Agriculture Alliance (AAA) regarding claims AAA Communications Director Emily Meredith has made when discussing the highly-controversial Ag-gag legislation. Meredith has asserted that some animal advocates manipulate footage of factory farm animal abuse, and on the radio program To the Point, the AAA spokesperson and avid Ag-gag supporter stated that “we [the AAA] have evidence that these videos have been manipulated.” ALDF, the national non-profit also fighting for the rights of Tony the truck stop tiger, is demanding that AAA produce the evidence the industry group claims to have of the manipulated footage. The anti-Ag-gag legal organization has emphasized the severity of these allegations which ultimately defame investigators and misinform the public.
This is what frustrates us to a degree, as investigations are to be kept [non-manipulated] at all times and under no circumstances should the code of private investigative documenting be breached or made to appear that a crime looks far worse than it actually is. No one investigator should ever portray a singular act of abuse to look like multiple acts, and nor should they if they are professional ever allow suffering to go on more than necessary.
It must also be noted that before any investigation is undertaken within the farming, agricultural, animal or food production business that a primary source of surveillance is planted to gather intelligence so that the secondary source can locate “the investigative officer” can then document, then report in time thus minimising abuse “and keeping your head above the law” as well as ensuring that the case is not thrown out of court. Anyone that breaches these acts are then on their own as well as being labelled the abuser “because you allowed the suffering that YOU knew was wrong to continue”.
Investigative manipulating is grossly unprofessional and it should never be portrayed in such a manner hence why the government have brought the Ag-gag law that one step further in more states of America. Such manipulations of evidence via phone tapping, recording, and long unnecessary investigations saw in 2011-2012 and 2013 many tabloids, journalists and media writers actually sentenced to prison to one tabloid banned with all staff that were not even a apart of the corrupt investigation sacked on the spot.
A professional investigator wouldn’t allow a child to be abused for any longer than is necessary so why allow an animal or “even more animals” to be abused, and should the investigator have a personal problem with the organisation/company and or individual then they should by practice and code of conduct be removed from the investigation and another investigator then placed within to document professionally the wrong doings.
Ag-gag bills that criminalize whistleblowing on factory farms are now sweeping the US nation. Five states have already implemented these types of laws with many others considering similar legislation. Undercover investigations on farms and slaughterhouses have played a crucial role in exposing animal abuse in the agricultural industry, yet these same investigations have been criticized for manipulating footage ultimately harming farm owners and workers “which in turn allows the abuse to go on” and the aggressor to walk away scot free laughing.
On Democracy Now!, a daily, independently-syndicated news program which airs across North America, Amy Goodman and Aaron Mate moderated an important debate on Ag-gag laws. Their guests were Will Porter, a freelance reporter and author who is very familiar with the controversial legislation, and Emily Meredith, the Communications Director for Animal Agriculture Alliance. Porter and Meredith addressed many of the pros and cons associated with these new laws during the debate. Several of their arguments are discussed in the points below:
Independent animal abuse investigations have made an enormous impact on today’s factory farming industry. Many companies have been forced to implement more humane practices due to criminal charges brought on by these studies. In addition, the largest meat recall in U.S. history is a direct result of these undercover investigations.
Ag-gag bill supporters are reporting a different side to the story. They are claiming that animal rights activists are not taking the incriminating footage directly to the authorities and are releasing them to media outlets. They argue that this independent research is somewhat disingenuous and not solely about bringing lawbreakers to justice.
This argument ignores the fact that there is very little government regulation when it comes to industrial farming. Animal activists feel the need to expose what is really going on in slaughterhouses, because so many Americans are completely in the dark about this topic. Furthermore, many of these Ag-gag bills cover such a broad scope of investigation that they criminalize certain forms of investigative journalism and documentation.
A key point for Ag-gag bill defenders is the claim that recording on private property is an infringement on the right to privacy and should not be permitted in any way, shape, or form. Yet, if one runs a legitimate business, where is the need for privacy? What needs to be kept in secret and what should the public not be allowed to see?
The Ag-gag bills want to hide what is happening in the animal agriculture industry. Big business and the bottom line have become legitimate reasons to turn a blind eye to animal treatment. For example, recently in North Carolina, a slew of Butterball employees pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges. Shortly after, the North Carolina Legislature introduced an Ag-gag bill that criminalized the same type of investigation used to indict the Butterball employees. This, in turn, led to the ousting of a North Carolina agricultural official for obstruction of justice.
The country is caught in the crossfire of the great Ag-gag bill debate. This type of legislation is on the table in many states and is an issue that is not going away anytime soon.
Kansas was the first state to enact an ag-gag law, in 1990. Montana and North Dakota followed in 1991.
These bills are troubling not only to animal protection activists, but also to those concerned with food safety, labor issues, free speech, and freedom of the press. The bills would apply equally to journalists, activists and employees. By prohibiting any type of undercover recordings, a farm’s own employees would be prohibited from attempting to record food safety violations, labor violations, sexual harrassment incidents or other illegal activity. First Amendment concerns were raised because the MN bill would have prohibited the broadcast of undercover videos, and the FL bill originally prohibited any unauthorized photos or videos of a farm including those shot from a public street.
Undercover photos and videos have been used extensively by the animal protection movement to expose farming cruelty, whether the activity is legal or illegal. These bills are a reaction to the bad publicity that erupts whenever a new undercover video is released.
Proponents of the bills claim that they are necessary to protect agricultural interests, and if animal cruelty or any illegal activity is taking place at a facility, the employees can notify authorities. There are several problems with this argument. Notifying authorities and waiting for authorities to get either a warrant or permission to enter the premises gives the wrongdoers a chance to cover up the problem. Cruel practices that are legal will likely not be reported or exposed. Also, employees won’t report themselves to authorities and might be hesitant to report their co-workers and supervisors.
However, if the farms treated the animals better, they wouldn’t have to worry about undercover videos. 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 whistle-blowers, 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.
Paul Shapiro, senior director of farm animal protection for The HSUS, states, “These draconian bills to silence whistle-blowers show just how far the animal agribusiness industry is willing to go, and just how much the industry has to hide.”
Undercover videos are important not just for educating the public, but also because they can be used as evidence in animal cruelty cases. According to Katerina Lorenzatos Makris of Examiner.com, “Castro County DA James R. Horton said that without the footage from Mercy for Animals (MFA) ‘we wouldn’t have anything’ in terms of evidence against the suspects in the beating deaths of dairy calves at E6 Cattle Co. in Hart, Texas.” In West Virginia in 2009, three employees at Aviagen Turkeys were charged with felony animal cruelty as a result of an undercover video by PETA.
While some members of the public will demand animal welfare reforms after seeing factory farming videos, animal rights is about whether humans have a right to use non-human animals for our purposes, regardless of how well the animals are treated.
Just though when you though one was safe in Europe “think again” as the Ag-gag laws may be coming to Europe and they mean business which is going to make investigating a crime more difficult, the investigator will be subject themselves to criminal charges “for not reporting the crime in a certain length of time” whilst the corporation gets of scot free just to recommit the same offence.
Large, intensive factory farms have shown significant growth in the US and Europe over the past 20 years. Between 2002 and 2007 the total number of livestock on the biggest of just US farms grew by more than 20%.
But concerns over the conditions in which cattle, pigs and poultry are raised and slaughtered have prompted many animal welfare groups to mount undercover investigations. (Which we wholeheartedly support) 100% so as long as the investigations are;
- Investigated in the correct manner
- There is more than sufficient evidence that can bring the perpetrator to justice within the set time allocated by law
- The investigator does not interfere with the raw evidence that could potentially place the surveillance operation into disrepute and animal’s in danger should edited surveillance be proven that would then allow the criminal to walk free
- Communications from the primary source are kept up to date, the investigator within the thick of the crime immediately and/or a low key undercover operation is conducted such as placing an “individual” within the working business to ascertain all areas of abuse, whom is involved, times and dates, to names, and any other areas of key interest. Then a formal investigation can be implemented that the detective knows from the “reconnaissance mission” where to go to, what to look for, and record within the allocated time thus reporting this. This then 1) allows for a sufficient conviction under the animal welfare act and 2) does not see or allow any furthering of animal abuse. By allowing animal abuse to continue when one has more than enough data then the investigator has overstepped the “line” and is bordering animal abuse charges themselves for allowing it to happen.
- After the investigation has been reported allow the law enforcement team to then take over.
- Never place within the public domain investigative reports that are in the process of court action, are being looked at by law enforcement, or “incite a criminal action” to take place. A good investigator is a private and quiet one that does not give out location, names, or personal details of which these companies fear the most. A good investigator always ensures that they have plan A, B, C, D, and E, to always being two steps ahead of the abuser.
Welfare groups say that the American Legislative Exchange Council is the moving force behind these laws. This group supports conservative causes and promotes legislation to limit the role of government. They have described animal rights campaigners as [terrorists]. They support the laws because they believe investigators are threatening the privacy rights of individuals and businesses.
While the “Ag-gag” laws are primarily designed to have impact within the US, many feel they will also have an impact outside the country.
As factory farming spreads like a plague around the world,” said Matt Rice from Mercy for Animals, “international agribusiness interests will certainly attempt to import America’s Ag-gag laws along with its tainted meat and animal abuse.
The UK and other nations should be on high alert. In the UK, Peta the animal welfare charity said these US laws were “shameful”. Such atrocious public policy sets a dangerous precedent for UK industry, as does the introduction of US-style mega-farms,” said Peta’s Ben Williamson. Legislators should instead be passing laws to require cameras in all abattoirs and factory farms in order to catch animal abusers.
Others are concerned that if these laws are passed, consumers around the world will no longer be able to trust that exports of US agricultural products are produced without cruelty. A significant amount of meat, dairy and eggs produced on US factory farms goes to foreign countries,
Anyone who consumes animal agricultural products imported from the US should be scared. This prevents them from knowing what’s going on – it blocks an entire industry from transparency.
We will update on this law and what impacts it is having on all those that are affected by it, there should be no secrecy with regards to large scale agricultural businesses, everyone should have the right to know how their food has been produced, how the animals are being treated, and if the food chain is being infested with “mafia meat”. Had a tip of not been sent to DEFRA then the UK and EU customer would still be consuming large quantities of horse/donkey meat along with the powerful analgesics that was located within the meat products.
International Animal Rescue Foundation does not under any circumstances support the Ag-gag law nor do we support the slaughtering of animals, so called “humane slaughter”. Should we locate or know of animal abuse we will continue within the nation that the law stands undertake surveillance “within the law” that shall be documented swiftly so as not to allow the suffering of animals to continue for any longer than is necessary and to bring the perpetrators to justice for breaching and/or violating the codes of the Animal Welfare Act and Food Safety Legislation.
We take all abuse seriously and we will act on that abuse whether it is directed at us or within the animal kingdom. No innocent person or animal must be subjected to abuse and all farming communities must if they are to now push this law upon to all states educate their staff, monitor their staff, and discipline them or we and others will come knocking law or no law ABUSE is ABUSE.
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Why do we need the Ag-gag laws gone? View the videos please which we warn you are disturbing and graphic.
International Animal Rescue Foundation
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