Missouri Ag-Gag Bill Clears House, Heads for Senate

sign: 'mind the gag'Missouri’s HB 1860 would criminalize undercover reporting of animal cruelty or unsanitary conditions on factory farms.  It won House approval on Tuesday; if the state Senate follows suit, Missouri could become the third state this year to pass ag-gag legislation. Industrial animal producers are fighting hard for mandatory consumer ignorance: fight back!

Like similar bills passed this year in Utah and Iowa, HB 1860 would criminalize documenting or reporting anything at an industrial animal facility without prior permission — which, of course, producers committing heinous acts of animal cruelty or violating food sanitation guidelines will never grant.

According to Food Safety News,

Missouri’s ag-gag bill is more broadly written than Iowa’s or Utah’s in a number of ways. For example, it gives Missouri prosecutors plenty of leeway for charging anyone around the edges of the crime.

 “Anyone who aids, abets, acts in concert, or otherwise participates directly or indirectly, in the commission of the crime is guilty of the crime,” HB 1860 says. “Anyone who conspires to commit the crime is subject to the provisions of the law regarding conspiracy.”

If HB 1860 becomes law, ‘criminals’ in Missouri who report (however accurately) illegal behavior, malicious animal cruelty, or food contamination offenses at industrial animal farms could be heavily fined, and imprisoned for up to 4 years.

My friends and fellow consumers, in all seriousness: this is insane.

Freedom of speech, anyone? Freedom of the press? Anyone? Bueller?!

When it comes to something as vital as our food supply, the very last thing we need is reduced accountability and transparency among producers! And the animal ag industry has proven over and over and over and over that in fact they can NOT police themselves, and are in urgent need of MORE whistleblowers and undercover reporters — not less.

The problem is that (a) they know consumers are catching on to the reality of what they’re doing; (b) they know consumers are disgusted by it; and (c) they’ve got deep pockets, ample for (apparently) buying ridiculous legislation that would never be tolerated otherwise.

So what do we do about it? Roll over, grit our teeth, and take it? NOPE!

This is some of the ugliest legislation on the national scene, and like so many things in our society it’s dollar-driven. If we keep paying factory farming interests to do what they do, they’ll keep doing it. If we keep allowing our legislators to ignore consumer interests in favor of corporate lobbyists, they’ll keep passing this kind of sludge.

What you can do:

  1. The very most important thing you can do is to vote your dollar! Don’t support foolishness; become an ecovore. Take your grocery bucks out of industrial animal ag’s pockets. Shop vegan or seek out local small-scale producers of animal foods — whatever diet you follow, make ‘no factory-farmed animal anything’ a way of life!
  2. Call, write, and otherwise pester your state Senators (and governor) if you live in Missouri; Minnesota and New York also have ag-gag bills pending, so same thing for residents there.
  3. So far, all ag gag bills both pending and passed have been introduced by Republican legislators. If you’re political, take this fact into consideration when you vote. If you lean Republican but don’t support this kind of legislation, call your legislators (wherever you live) and tell ’em they’ll lose you over the ag-gag issue if they persist. If you lean Dem, make sure your representatives know you’re watching this issue and expect them not to go along with the ag-gag insanity.
  4. Use your social networks to share information about the ag-gag issue. Share this and other relevant EDB articles. ‘Like’ Humane Society of the US, Compassion Over Killing, Mercy for Animals, and Citizens Against Ag-Gag Legislation on Facebook, for news updates and other information worth sharing.

There is no good reason for a civilized society to tolerate such foolishness, in Missouri or anywhere else.

Pass it on!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Exa3KpN424&w=560&h=315]

Image credit: Creative Commons photo by Shht!

4 thoughts on “Missouri Ag-Gag Bill Clears House, Heads for Senate”

    1. Submitted on 2012/04/20 at 3:09 pm
      I think it got bought out.

      The bottom line — the really scary part — is that the ag-gag issue is just one part of a larger legislative trend against many of the freedoms we’ve always had before, in the US. Freedom of speech, assembly, privacy, press: they’re all being alarmingly curtailed.

      I recommend this article, but it won’t cheer you up: http://www.reviewatlas.com/news/x304761937/So-much-for-freedom-of-speech.

      I’m curious to see if ‘we the people’ can still turn it around. If we’ve become ‘we the sheeple’ enough to let this trend continue, I guess we deserve what we get; but we surely seem to be careening down an ugly road.

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