Talk Back: Ag-Gag Suppresses Truth
Yesterday, The HSUS took out the first in a series of full-page advertisements in Indiana newspapers condemning proposed anti-whistleblower or “ag-gag” legislation, SB 373, which is designed to prevent the public from getting whistleblower-based information about the workings of factory farms. In the ad, we let Indiana newspapers do the talking, since most of the state’s leading news outlets oppose the effort to shut down the free flow of information about the conditions of animals and about food safety. One can only presume that if they didn’t have anything to hide, they wouldn’t be concerned about people taking pictures of how the animals are treated.
“When government fails to fulfill its watchdog duty, citizens, especially but not exclusively in the news media, must take on that role.” – The Indianapolis Star
"This bill would thwart the flow of needed information by throwing a cloak of secrecy around an activity that farmers, at least those who have nothing to hide, ought to be proud to show off …Clearly, this bill is not in the public’s best interest.” – The Muncie Star Press
"Businesses, including large factory farms that are operating responsibly, don’t need – nor should they want – this bill to pass." – The Journal Gazette
The Indiana Senate has already passed this bill, and this morning the House Agriculture Committee (on a strict party-line vote, with republicans favoring SB 373) passed the bill, in order to allow consideration of the full House. Now it’s up to Indiana voters to let their elected officials know that this legislation simply goes too far.
There are nine other states with similar bills, though most of them have been killed or are unlikely to move forward. The HSUS is working with a growing coalition of organizations and individuals who support First Amendment rights and who also believe that every American has a stake in the integrity of animal production and slaughter facilities, especially in relation to food safety and animal welfare.
Because of the central importance of investigation and information-gathering, many of you have had something to say about the tactics of the agribusiness lobby:
Agribusiness groups have been made well aware of how much money Hallmark lost once their hideous abuse was exposed by The HSUS, and so now are quite understandably desperate to have anti-whistleblower measures put into place....but the public has a right to know where their food comes from. Demand transparency.
- Debbie Johnson
I ask that any of the lawmakers, business owners or politicians who are "for" preventing exposure of their methods with undercover investigations ask their children what they think about it all. They would find that the youth of this society believe such cowardice to be shameful, greedy and totally unsupportable. Which would agribusiness rather pay for: lawsuits, court battles, public outcry, loss of business, negative publicity and eventual defeat, or simple humane practices strictly adhered to in the name of honesty and responsibility?
- Ramey Zamora
How rewarding it is to be part of this organization. A great organization is a reflection of its leader and motivated members. Let's stay motivated to fight this kind of cruelty and evil! God Bless!
Some of us are more than happy to write to the businesses and states who are promoting this, and let them know that we will boycott their products.
– Bonnie Hale
Appalling what people are finding OK these days. Animals are not here to be abused. This is giving the world a message that to harm and abuse animals for their own gain is OK, but it is not OK. It’s been proven that if you inflict these acts on animals you are also prone to think it’s ok to do the same to humans. We will end up paying for these choices. Our children will see these acts, and that we do nothing to prevent them, and they will think it’s OK too.
Simply put: restaurant inspectors inspect without warning. Nursing home inspectors inspect without warning. Zagats representatives inspect without warning, and so on throughout the industries requiring inspections. So what gives agribusiness the right to be excluded from undercover inspections when they are routine and necessary in many other industries! Any judge should see that you shouldn't criminalize undercover inspections in one industry, while at the same time making it protocol in other industries.
I agree wholeheartedly with what you have said. Let us know to whom we may address our protest letters, as you have in the past. We animal rights folks are legion. We can make a difference. Just direct us to the proper place to deliver our messages that will have the most impact.
- Patricia J. McClenahan
Agribusiness groups think that it’s okay to take a public relations hit in the short run, if they can shut down the information flow about their industrialized farming practices. We have to show them that their conduct, and this raft of legislation, will not be tolerated in our society.