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Missouri House Passes "Ag Gag" Bill Designed to Stop Factory-Farm Investigations

Categories: News, Politics
dead chicken flies egg.jpg
A scene from a 2010 undercover video that helped spawn Iowa's bill, and subsequently, Missouri's.
The Missouri House of Representatives yesterday passed a bill designed to thwart undercover investigations into big agriculture.

The legislation (HB 1860) mirrors a similar bill signed into law this year in Iowa and creates the crime of "Agricultural Production Facility Fraud" for anyone who obtains access to a farm or animal processing center by "false pretenses...with the intent to commit an act not authorized by the owner."

Legislators in Iowa first considered an "Ag Gag" bill last year following the release of disturbing videos (see below) exposing conditions inside factory farms in Iowa and elsewhere in the United States. The original Iowa bill specifically would have criminalized undercover videotaping inside agricultural facilities, but the legislation was altered when Iowa's attorney general questioned its First Amendment restrictions. Instead Iowa lawmakers sought a work-around, making it a crime for people to misrepresent themselves into order to gain employment in the agricultural industry.

Missouri's bill sponsored by Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany), himself a cattle farmer, goes beyond the Iowa bill to include a provision aimed to stop image or sound recordings inside farms. The so-called crime of "Agricultural Production Facility Interference" makes it illegal to produce or distribute a record of an image or sound occurring at an operation without the consent of the owner of the facility. Violators could be subject to six months to four years in prison.

The Springfield News-Leader quoted Guernsey this week saying that he knows of no surreptitious filming that has occurred on Missouri farms but said the law is needed to "protect an industry that drives the economy in this state." He added that the bill would not penalize whistle blowers who are legitimately employed by an agricultural business.

But that doesn't hold with groups like the Humane Society of the United States that say their investigations are often prompted by employees.

"These are people who fear retaliation or the loss of their job should they make their concerns public," Matt Dominguez, a spokesman for HSUS tells Daily RFT. "What's interesting with the Missouri bill -- and similar ones being considered in other states -- is that it singles out agriculture. Other industries don't need these kinds of protections. So, the question becomes, 'What do these industrial farms have to hide?'"

At least four other states are currently considering "Ag Gag" bills. Similar bills were introduced but failed to become law in Indiana, Florida and Illinois. The Missouri bill now moves onto the Senate.

Dominguez says secret recordings are necessary to inform the general population of the way their meat, eggs and dairy are produced. "When these videos are released, there's a huge outcry from the public. They don't like the way these animals are treated and they're concerned about food safety. And what is big-agriculture's response? Laws like these intended to create a chilling effect."

In 2010, the Humane Society of the United States released the following video of conditions said to be taped inside an egg-laying facility at Iowa's own Rembrandt Foods.


And this spring Compassion Over Killing released this video taped inside a corporate hog farm in Iowa.


piglet dead.jpg
For more on the debate over factory farming vs. animal welfare, check out Riverfront Times' award-winning feature story, Down on the Farm.




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35 comments
Susanne6
Susanne6

Almost impossible to prove false pretenses therefore can't prove fraud.  Guernsey says factory farm animals have 0 protections against animal cruelty, we have no duty to treat them humanely, and your are a criminal if you report animal cruelty.  This law won't hold up in court and no one will be prosecuted.  It's just a scare tactic, and I am not afraid of animal abusers so don't worry about it :).

sillycat
sillycat

BreezyAngelBear, well people won't be able to find "the truth" now that no one can go in and investigate for themselves. Instead you want us to take the word of the factory farmers? People know that meat comes from animals, but they majority aren't aware of the abuse that goes on at the factory farms. Asking for humane treatment of farm animals isn't asking too much.

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BreezyAngelBear
BreezyAngelBear

and they are NOT trying to HIDE ANYTHING!!! They are just dont want lying stupid crackheads to go in some place under FALSE PRETENSES and MAKE SHIT UP to suit themselves. WOW! I LOVE UNEDUCATED PEOPLE!!!

BreezyAngelBear
BreezyAngelBear

@facebook-100002776368647:disqus I don't think that you have ANY idea what goes on in Missouri in regards to our animals and our farms!!!!! If you did you would know that your statement is a load of crap!!! Or are you just taking the information you are given and not doing your own research? if you were "concerned" about the welfare of the animals then you would take the time to find out the TRUTH!!

Susan B. Love
Susan B. Love

absolutely shameful! There are so many reasons to practice humane husbandry, not least of which is that the animals produced are better tasting and do not live their lives in abject terror and die a painful death. I am a carnivore but I also have a sense of empathy and a soul.

L9n6hf45
L9n6hf45

Best thing to do is not eat factory farm meat. Eat grassfed meat. 

Angie Holland Walker
Angie Holland Walker

EVERYONE NEEDS TO STOP SUPPORTING COMMERCIAL PORK.  FIND LOCAL FARMS THAT RAISE THEIR OWN WITH ORGANIC PRACTICES.  I PERSONALLY RAISE MY OWN.  MY RED WATTLE IS CURRENTLY EXPECTING.  THIS PIG VIDEO BREAKS MY HEART.  CRUEL!SHE SPENDS MOST OF HER DAY IN HER MUD PUDDLE UNDER A SHADE TREE WITH PASTURE TO ROOT WHEN SHE WANTS. 

Tonia Townsend
Tonia Townsend

This is Very wrong and all it does is now lump all Missouri farmers into one group.. I know many farmers.. None of them mistreat their animals. Its the big "Food Plants" that do this stuff.. So now because they are trying to pass this everyone thinks all Missouri farmers are the same. Going vegetarian or vegan is not the answer for everyone.. If  you like that fine.. but don't force it on everyone because of the big wigs in farming industry that confine their animals.. Grass fed, Organically raised, pastured  and humanely treated animals are raised and processed for meat everyday. Some one passed on that if you have a cell phone you can afford to buy better food! We are raising ours.. You can do a lot on a few acres.. Some people need to look beyond their nose to see the possibilities..  

Sugplmfry5
Sugplmfry5

HORRIFYING DISGUSTING UNCONSCIONABLE EVIL EVIL EVIL

Curtis knew
Curtis knew

Federal law requiring labels to have food origin info would help here. Then when a state plays these games people just leave it on the store shelves to rot..

Earthmomjane
Earthmomjane

I cannot watch another one of these.  I can say however, the answer for everyone is not becoming a vegetarian.  We eat meat that we raise ourselves.  Our animals free range on clean pastures and know no cruelty.  It is not wrong to eat meat, it is wrong to support factory farms and allow them to hide what they do from us.  Also, as long as we insist on cheaper and cheaper food the industries willl continue to abuse animals like this.  Good, clean organic food costs more and is worth every penny. Vote with your grocery dollar-it has more impact on food production than anything else you can do.  Buy pasture raised, organic meat and eggs and dairy. Or go totally wild and drink raw milk, it is AMAZING!  Better yet, raise some chickens, plant a garden and support your local organic farms. 

Marglovejewel
Marglovejewel

I can't even say anything, I am so rendered speech less. Again, I'm reminded of why I became a vegetarian more than 40 years ago.

RockyMissouri
RockyMissouri

WHY CAN'T WE MAKE ILLEGAL TO TREAT ANIMALS LIKE THIS. ? My dad was a veterinarian.....and I can tell you I've seen a LOT of farms.. and I have NEVER seen a farmer mistreat his animals, and I have not EVER seen the large scale cafo's where they are kept in such miserable conditions......! This is beyond cruelty....and I pledge to let these fuckers know with my VOTE AND MY MONEY, just how little I think of them... It is an unholy thing to treat animals this way....

RockyMissouri
RockyMissouri

This is wrong on every level, and MAKES ME SICK AND DISGUSTED.

Glitterglamgirl
Glitterglamgirl

These people have no hearts whatsoever. Of course there are also puppy mills, animal testing, and hoarding. 

Jason Rahall
Jason Rahall

The ag industry must really have a great deal to hide to have a law like this. 

jumpinjezebel
jumpinjezebel

Like they say the best legislators money can buy.

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Fuck-suburbs
Fuck-suburbs

Typical fuckhead backwoods rubes. Obviously these pricks have something to hide, why else pass another bullshit law like this? The bunch of sister fucking trailer trash we have running this state need to be rounded up and put to sleep. Hicksville meth addled chicken fucking corncob pipe smoking braindead hillbillies, you should all go drown yourself in the nearest river. THAT would be about the only action that would improve this backward fucking state.

Shelley Powers
Shelley Powers

Agriculture doesn't drive the economy of this state, manufacturing does. By orders of magnitude more, in fact. 

Agriculture falls behind manufacturing, service industry, and even government when it comes to GDP. 

All this bill does is tell people this state has something to hide--don't trust any agricultural product that comes from Missouri. Way to go: harm all Missouri farmers to protect a handful of large CAFO owners like Smithfield. 

Jaya Bhumitra
Jaya Bhumitra

Thank you for covering this important issue. It is a consumer's right to know where his or her food comes from, and the ag-gag legislation is misguided in that it punishes the whistle blower and not the perpetrator. 

Nina Schipperke
Nina Schipperke

Will the 3 farmers in Missouri who DON'T abuse their animals please raise their hands?

Nina Schipperke
Nina Schipperke

One would imagine that if there WERE 'crackheads' within the HSUS or MFA working under-cover , we would have surely heard so by now.Possibly Breezy has other information.Or possibly, living in Missouri, Breezy has crackheads on the mind.One would also love to know if there are as many crackheads in Missouri as there are puppy-mills.

Nina Schipperke
Nina Schipperke

The truth is that obviously there is much to hide.There isn't a person on the planet who does not believe this.

Someone hasn't been turning the pages on their calendar.

BreezyAngelBear
BreezyAngelBear

so what do you dumb asses think about the goverment trying to pass the law that says "no animal shall have the SAME rights as a HUMAN?" do your research!!!

BreezyAngelBear
BreezyAngelBear

yeah because agriculture and puppy mills, dairy farms, etc are ONLY IN MISSOURI you stupid asses!!!

RockyMissouri
RockyMissouri

These are the businesses that the GOP loves..... If folks knew how these animals were treated.....THEY WOULD NOT BUY THEIR PRODUCT!

Painterharris
Painterharris

Mr. Suburbs, From the way you speak, one night think your talking about yourself. It seems your vocabulary matches that of an inbred hillbilly. Needless to say I'm not impressed or pursuaded by your " non argument". But good job on showing your ignorance.

BreezyAngelBear
BreezyAngelBear

really? where does your food come from? your ass???? and the people of Missouri has nothing to hide have you ever heard of false implications? LIES to make people like you believe what they want you to believe. I love it when people trust the media instead of finding out the TRUTH! what a bunch of crack heads!!!

RockyMissouri
RockyMissouri

Cafo's are vile and nasty... I do not want to eat meat that is treated like that...

Angie Holland Walker
Angie Holland Walker

That's why it is important for those of us who do know, to share the information.  

Shelley Powers
Shelley Powers

Wake me up when you can form a coherent sentence. 

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