Missouri Rep. Wants to Criminalize Finding Out Where Your Diseased Meat Came From
He adds: "I'm looking at it from a human health standpoint. Environmental terrorism -- what would happen if we had a bunch of [terrorist acts] in the state because we handed out information to individuals and those individuals went out and poisoned a bunch of animals?"
Facebook/Jay Houghton State Rep. Jay Houghton
On his non-legislation days, Houghton works as a manager at McCaw Farms' hog facility and in the past has worked for Monsanto's dairy research facility and Cargill, one of the world's largest meat producers. Nonetheless, Houghton insists that his bill is only only about protecting personal information like "addresses" and preventing terrorist attacks.
But Jim McCann, president of the Missouri Cattleman's Association says he supports the bill because it prevents information from getting into undesirable hands.
"If an activist, media or some other individual or group submitted a Sunshine request, the state would most likely have to surrender producers' private information," McCann tells the High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal.
The criminalization of obtaining records resembles anti-whistleblower or "Ag-gag" laws that have successfully criminalized or greatly restricted the act of recording the inside of farms and slaughterhouses in several states, including Missouri, where a 2012 law signed into law by Governor Jay Nixon required evidence of animal abuse to be reported within 24 hours.
But Houghton insists that's not the intent of the bill.
"There is no Ag-gag bill," he says. "This is about privacy."
Houghton's bill has four co-sponsors, including Republican lawmaker Casey Guernsey, who sponsored a version of the 2012 Ag-gag bill and later unsuccessfully sought to criminalize flying drones with cameras over farms and livestock yards.
Lawmakers held a hearing on HB 2094 on Tuesday. It still needs a vote to get to the next step of the legislation process.
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