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Big Ag wants to hide animal abuse by penalizing whistleblowers

Many an abusive situation on factory farms has been exposed by those individuals brave enough to go undercover and film those offensive events and situations, and then bring them to the attention of consumers.

These advocates risk a lot to let people know that the pigs, cows, chickens, goats, sheep, horses, and more are subjected to a nightmare of torture we wouldn't wish on our worst enemies let alone innocent animals that can't defend themselves. Such information has helped prosecute offenders and even close down businesses that operate at substandard and illegal levels. But it all could come to an end soon if Big Ag has its way. Transparency is not a word they approve of and they don't want you to know what they do to and with the animals that end up on your plate.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is currently shopping around a bill in six different states that makes it illegal for anyone to pose as an employee (get hired on under false pretenses) and film mistreatment of animals and/or unfavorable conditions at agricultural businesses. In essence, the bill seeks to shoot the messenger, hog-tie him, string him up, and then jail him. It would be a case of killing the Good Samaritan while the criminal goes free and the victim keeps on being victimized.

It seems a little insane that instead of trying to clean up their act (and, indeed, even being ashamed to have such abuses occurring in their factories), these businesses would rather redirect your attention away from their misdeeds and point a finger of blame at the person blowing the whistle on them.

The bill would mandate that any 'evidence' collected be turned over to law enforcement within 48 hours (rather than released out to the public) or face a hefty fine, and would make it a criminal act to lie on a slaughterhouse job application which is commonly done by animal advocates in order to get hired. Certainly such is a fireable offense, but not criminal on the level of causing one to be jailed.

ALEC is a conservative business advocacy group responsible for the Stand Your Ground law in Florida (and other states) that allows the use of deadly force if a person feels their life is in danger. (This is the same law in question in the case of the murder of teenaged Trayvon Martin who was shot to death by wannabe cop/neighborhood watch (off-duty) citizen George Zimmerman. Martin was on his way home with a bag of Skittles and an ice tea. Zimmerman claims to have felt threatened by this teenager, and after a struggle ensued, Martin died of a gunshot wound.)

The six states being targeted by ALEC are California, Nebraska, Tennessee, Indiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. The same type of bill has already been rejected in New Mexico, New Hampshire, and Wyoming. Missouri and Utah have similar laws already passed banning taking pictures on factory farms.

The prevalence and persistance of this bill is a key indicator of how much these businesses have to hide. The only way to put a stop to it is to contact your state representatives and demand transparency from these agricultural businesses. What they do affects you directly. As the consumer, you hold the power!

View the Board of Directors listing for ALEC here. To give you an idea of who can afford to be a member of ALEC, check out the fees for private sector members:

Membership Levels

Washington Club – $7,000

Madison Club – $12,000

Jefferson Club – $25,000

More information on exactly who ALEC represents and seeks to protect (not the animals) from ALEC Exposed: "

Protecting Factory Farming from Regulation

One of the lesser publicized ventures of Koch Industries was its large-scale confined animal feed operations (CAFOs). At one point, Koch Beef Company was one of the largest cattle feeders in the U.S. When it sought to increase one of its already huge operations by 20,000 head of cattle, workers living a few hundred feet away expressed concerns for their health, and neighbors complained about an exponential increase in smell from Koch’s CAFO. But Koch persuaded friendly state regulators that the neighbors' concerns lacked “technical merit”-- although it ultimately divested the feed lots, while maintaining its Matador Cattle Company and grazing operations near Yellowstone National Park, along with other agricultural operations. Is ALEC interested in protecting CAFOs? You bet. One of its bills, the “Right to Farm Act,” would bar any lawsuits by neighbors claiming nuisance from any activities that are typical in farming, including industrial agriculture. If this bill passed, it would likely benefit ALEC's agribusinesses members. --- ALEC also seeks to "Prohibiting Local Efforts on GMO Food and Food Safety".

They are firmly on the side of money as the bottom line without thought for animal welfare or consumer safety.

Your voice matters. Use it to speak out to your state representatives. Call or write a letter saying no to ALEC's Ag-gag bill.

You can also use your power as the consumer to say no to factory-farmed meats and produce by buying only 100% USDA Organic. To do both is a powerful message that the customer is always right and the customer demands humane treatment of all animals including those raised for food, and full transparency of company practices on those factory farms to be tempered with laws that punish violators equally in comparison to the crime of animal abuse/cruelty.

Be a voice for the voiceless. Say NO to Ag-Gag.

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M. Gwynn has authored two books, Harvest and The Cat Who Wanted to be a Reindeer on .

All articles by Michele Gwynn are under copyright and cannot be re-posted whole without written consent by the author. Partial re-posting with a link back to the original article is permitted. For consent, questions, or comments, email

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