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Published on February 11th, 2013 | by Todd Smekens

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Animal Rights Groups Oppose Indiana’s Ag-Gag Bills

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Animal Rights Groups Urge Indiana Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee to Oppose Harmful Anti-Whistle-blower Bill

Many well known animal rights groups are meeting in Indianapolis to address the ALEC boiler-plated special (SB373) and other proposed AG-Gag bills, anti-whistle-blower bills, and constitutional amendments as an attempt to hide animal abuse, unsafe working conditions and known environmental problems.

While the entire food industry is inviting consumers to visit the farms and see the animals being raised in their natural environment, the corporate owned Big Ag farms still want to mass produce our food jeopardizing our health for profit. Instead of our elected officials addressing consumers and small farmer concerns, they are being complicit with corporations in concealing their operations and trying to make the whistle-blowers who report the animal abuses into eco-terrorists and prevent future laws from being enacted that will impede their confined animal operations.

Here is the groups press release, and we wish them well tomorrow:

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 SB373, a bill that seeks to prevent whistle-blowers 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.

“Instead of shooting the messenger by criminalizing truth-telling investigations, producers on industrial farms should stop abusing animals and jeopardizing public health,” said Bruce Friedrich, Farm Sanctuary’s senior director for advocacy.

“This bill is un-American and a broad government overreach,” said Nathan Runkle, MFA executive director. “It seeks to shield animal abusers from public scrutiny and prosecute the brave whistle-blowers who dare to speak out against animal cruelty, environmental pollution and corporate corruption.”

“This punishes whistle-blowers, 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 bill.

“Americans deserve the truth. Shamefully, this anti-whistleblower bill aims to hide the truth and keep the public from knowing the horrors that really happen behind the closed doors of animal agribusiness,” said Cheryl Leahy, general counsel for Compassion Over Killing.

“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 whistle-blower 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.

Facts:

  • In a poll commissioned by the ASPCA, it was revealed that 71 percent of Americans support undercover investigative efforts by animal welfare organizations to expose animal abuse on industrial farms and almost two-thirds oppose making such efforts illegal. The nationwide survey also found that 94 percent of Americans feel that it is important to have measures in place to ensure that food coming from farm animals is safe for people to eat, and 94 percent agree that animals raised for food on farms deserve to be free from abuse and cruelty.
  • Investigations have played a vital role on the national level in exposing animal welfare and food safety issues related to industrialized agriculture. In 2008, an HSUS undercover investigation of a slaughter plant in Chino, Calif., revealed horrific animal abuse, resulted in the largest meat recall in U.S. history and led to a federal false claims act lawsuit which aims to recover hundreds of millions of dollars from the slaughter facility operators. Two of the nine defendants in the case recently agreed to settle out of that lawsuit by paying more than $300,000—essentially all of their assets—and agreeing to the entry of an approximately $500 million judgment against them.
  • Several recent undercover investigations by Mercy For Animals, the Humane Society of the United States and Compassion Over Killing have resulted in agricultural employees being charged and convicted of criminal offenses, and facilities being shut down because of legal violations.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, rated the most effective by its peers. Since 1954, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. We rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals each year, but our primary mission is to prevent cruelty before it occurs. We’re there for all animals, across America and around the world. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — on the Web at humanesociety.org.

Farm Sanctuary provides lifelong care to more than 1,000 farm animals at its three shelters in California and New York and works to protect farm animals from cruelty, inspire change in the way society views and treats farm animals, and promote compassionate vegan living. FarmSanctuary.org

Mercy For Animals is dedicated to preventing cruelty to farmed animals and promoting compassionate food choices and policies through undercover investigations, legal advocacy, corporate outreach, and education campaigns. mercyforanimals.org

Compassion Over Killing works to end the abuse of animals in agriculture through undercover investigations, public outreach, litigation, and other advocacy programs. Online at COK.net.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, visit aldf.org.

About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti- cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, please visit www.ASPCA.org, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

The Animal Welfare Institute has been alleviating suffering inflicted on animals by people since its founding in 1951. Major goals of the organization include abolishing factory farms and achieving humane slaughter for all animals raised for food. Awionline.org.

Compassion in World Farming was founded over 40 years ago in 1967 by a British farmer who became horrified by the development of modern, intensive factory farming. Today we campaign peacefully to end all cruel factory farming practices globally. We believe that the biggest cause of animal cruelty on the planet deserves a focused, specialized approach – so we only work on farm animal welfare.

The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association was formed as a home for veterinary professionals who want to join together to speak out for animals, engage in direct care programs for animals in need, and educate the public and others in the profession about animal welfare issues. The HSVMA is an affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. www.hsvma.org


About the Author

Diverse professional background with a passion for leadership, spiritual inquiry and sharing. I enjoy being a witness to the rapid changes our global culture is experiencing and then trying to tell its story to readers. I enjoy cycling, yoga, spending time with my daughter, and being healthy. Google


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