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Lawmakers kill "Ag-Gag" proposals

Animal rights activists who take secret pictures or videos to expose cruelty on farms will still legally be able to do so after lawmakers slashed “Ag-Gag” proposals in the House and Senate this week.

The bills, SB1184/HB1021, sponsored by Sen. Jim Norman, R-Tampa, and Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Bartow, passed without the section that deals with farm photography.

The farm proposal met resistance in the Senate Monday after animal advocates railed against it and senators expressed concerns that it would criminalize innocent people.

Animal groups also filled the House Wednesday, where Albritton immediately suggested striking the part of the bill that deals with farm photography.

The bill also includes non-controversial proposals that address storm runoff and the use of diesel fuel for off-road vehicles.

A similar farm proposal also caused controversy last year and was dubbed the “croparazzi” bill by the New York Times because of its severity and scope.

Proponents of the action said farm owners need protection from zealous animal rights activists who manipulate photos and videos for use in anti-farm campaigns.

Opponents say laws against trespassing and slander already address people who misrepresent farm activity. They also point to cases, such as the shut-down of illegal slaughterhouses in Miami-Dade, in which covert video or photos exposed animal cruelty and led to reforms.

Comments

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MJ

There are obviously adequate protections in place, so that section was struck. One has to wonder, whose idea was to write that section in?

LW

It seems that they are shooting at the wrong target. They should make it a crime for someone taking the pictures to not report the abuse immediately. These photographers claim to be working for the benefit of the animals, yet they do not try to stop the abuse. Instead they wait for multiple incidences as well as sometimes encouraging the abuse. They should be considered accomplices to the abuse if they do not try to stop it or get someone else to stop it.

DC

Are there adequate protections in place??? A nearby PA farm was the victim of a Mercy for Animals undercover video. An employee worked there for a year and presented less than 15 min of footage. Claims were that animals were abused and not cared for when there were medical problems, however, there was clearly a bottle of medication in the hand of the person shooting footage in one clip. Videos did show some cleanliness issues, but there have been a few times on our farm where due to a breakdown or extreme weather situation, etc. where scraping manure got let go longer than ideal. Just because something was seen in a few minutes of video over the course of a year opportunity to exploit someone, does not mean it is the norm - there could have been extenuating circumstances. This particular farm had no footage of actual abuse to animals. 4 separate veterinarians (2 from the state dept of Ag) were sent to conduct unannounced inspections in the weeks and months following the claims. They did not find abuse or neglect. The farmer had a solid working relationship with a herd vet which was what ultimately led to the claims being dismissed in court. Unfortunately, his reputation and that of his family and farm were badly damaged. People should not be able to get away with that! Could he have retaliated legally? Perhaps. Would it have been worth it? Probably not - how much is your name worth? There should be severe punishment for radicals shooting undercover videos, because often claims are not justified and evidence is staged or altered. Having said that - I do not condone abuse and have been horrified at a few of the videos that show outright abuse. Those that handle animals that way or are aware of it and do nothing but video tape it are equally guilty and should be held accountable.

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