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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.