Can “ag gag” laws stop undercover activists?

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“We love busting animal-abusers. If they want to take away our rights, having based my entire career on this one thing, there's no way I will sit by as this happens.”

That’s what one undercover animal activist said recently in an ABC News interview, vowing to fight so-called “ag gag” laws being passed in many states across the country.

The activist, identified only as "Pete," was behind a 2012 undercover video released of alleged animal abuse at the Bettencourt Dairies’ Dry Creek Dairy facility near Hansen, Idaho. The video led to changes in dairy employee training and vetting across Idaho, as well as probation for one of the three workers charged in the case.

But, as ABC News pointed out, these undercover investigations may be radically transformed as more states work to pass laws to protect farmers and ranchers from activists, including prohibiting them from gaining employment under false pretenses and waiting months before reporting the abuse to authorities.

In recent years, some states have proposed or passed bills that give undercover activists 24 hours to submit unedited copies of footage to law enforcement for further investigation. Tennessee is the latest to propose an “ag gag” bill, which was approved by the House Agriculture Subcommittee earlier this week. Read more here.  

A total of nine state legislatures are considering an “ag gag” bill.

For activists like Pete, these laws only protect animal abuse. For livestock producers, however, it’s a way to prevent groups from strategically editing the footage and releasing it to the law enforcement and the public in a well-planned media frenzy months after filming. However, in the process, the laws also make the industry less transparent to consumers.

In a 2012 poll on, 73 percent of respondents indicated that they do not believe that “ag gag” laws help agriculture. See the poll here.

Meanwhile, animal activist "Pete" notes that he will work with the Mercy for Animals’ legal teams to work around the “ag gag” laws to continue to expose animal abuse.  

"We'll find a way,” Pete warned. “There's going to be a way we keep doing this."

Read, “Undercover Activist Vows to Fight 'Ag Gag' Laws.”

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Indiana  |  March, 22, 2013 at 01:16 PM

How does reporting alleged abuse within 24 to 48 hours "make the industry less transparent to consumers"? What the hell are you blathering on about Angela? Every farm of any size has one or two idiot employees vulnerable to being incited by a shifty activist scab. Hell, these fools are easily persuaded to act out and think it's funny to make those disgusting videos. If you knew how challenging it is to train and supervise them you might understand. Eventually your shadowy buddy "Pete" will find vigilante operations work both ways. The so-called "ag gag laws" are as much for his own protection as ours.

nepa  |  March, 23, 2013 at 12:05 AM

Ag gag = 12 ga.

SD  |  March, 26, 2013 at 06:11 PM

How can they be considered "ag-gag" laws when they seek to force the activists to behave honestly? With most producers totally committed to treating animals according to the best practices as determined by animal care experts, and too many of the activists focused on getting "evidence" in less than honest and accurate ways, including holding their films in order to 'enhance' them while letting animals suffer for longer, this whole "animal rights" reeks of scam and even terrorist tactists. Think! Why would farmers raising animals for a living do anything which jeapordizes the possiblity of making a profit is the first result of mistreatment of animals? Stressed animals are not profitable animals!

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