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Friday, February 08, 2013

Ind. Law - "Animal Protection Groups Urge Opposition to Harmful Anti-Whistleblower Bill"

The ILB has been forwarded an email that includes:

(Feb. 8, 2013) — The Humane Society of the United States, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Farm Sanctuary, Mercy For Animals, Compassion Over Killing, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Welfare Institute, Compassion in World Farming and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association are urging members of the Indiana Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee to oppose SB 373, a bill that seeks to prevent whistleblowers from exposing the mistreatment of animals and other misconduct on industrial farms. If passed, the bill would prohibit, among other things, photography and recording images at agricultural operations.

“This bill punishes whistleblowers, hides animal abuse, and endangers the public by keeping unsafe working conditions, food safety issues and environmental problems on industrial farms hidden,” said Erin Huang, Indiana state director for The HSUS. * * *

“Under the guise of property rights, anti-whistleblower bills are intended to prevent consumers from ever seeing the animal abuse, contaminated crops, illegal working conditions and food safety problems that are commonly found on industrial farms,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

“This bill attempts to conceal from the public information about animal welfare and food safety conditions on farms,” said Vicki Deisner, state director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Midwest region. “The agricultural industry should be attempting to rectify its on-farm problems rather than suppressing information about them.”

Critics question the constitutionality of whistleblower suppression bills as infringing First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press, and a broad spectrum of national interest groups have spoken out against these bills. They include animal protection, civil liberties, public health, food safety, environmental, food justice, legal, workers’ rights and freedom of speech organizations.

Well, this email is evidently one of the groups warned about by the author of the constitutional amendment that would ensure the "right to hunt, fish, harvest game, or engage in the agricultural or commercial production of meat, fish, poultry, or dairy products." (See also this Feb. 7th entry.)

Here is the digest to SB 372:

Makes it unlawful recording of agricultural or industrial operations, a Class A misdemeanor, for a person to: (1) enter real property that is owned by another person and on which agricultural operations or industrial operations are being conducted; and (2) take a photograph of or make a video recording or motion picture of the real property, structures located on the real property, or the agricultural operations or industrial operations being conducted on the real property; without the written consent of the owner of the real property or an authorized representative of the owner.
On a related note, here is an article from Wired, reported by Maryn McKenna, headed "Why We Can’t See Inside Poultry Production, and What Might Change if We Could." The last two paragraphs deal with the so-called ag-gag laws.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 8, 2013 11:59 AM
Posted to Indiana Law