A New York Bill Targets Animal Activists And Protects Abusive Farm Practices By Large Factory Farmers.
In 2009 a small group of animal activists called Mercy For Animals recorded a video at Willet Dairy in Locke, NY. I want everyone to see it, but I must warn you it is GRAPHIC, do not watch it if you are sensitive to torture or eating…seriously. It shows how a factory farm or Closed Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) really works. There is cruelty to animals, environmental destruction from manure in concentrated areas, and just an overall “production over quality” mentality. Groups such as Mercy For Animals do not let the animals go, they do not hurt the farmer physically, they do all of their work non-violently with a video camera, undercover, doing what the USDA should be doing. And yet states such as Iowa, Florida and Minnesota, have tried to ban such whistleblowing, and now New York joins the fray.
S5172-2011 is a bill introduced in the NY Senate to ban these undercover investigations by “unauthorized parties.” The reason that is given by the bills sponsor, Patty Ritchie, is that this bill is for food security and to fight the Drug War. The summary of the bill reads in part:
“While working with the Departments of Homeland Security as well as local law enforcement,it has become clear from several recent instances of animal and facility tampering (the unlawful injection of cattle with antibiotics in Western New York, and the increasing theft of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer, utilized by meth addicts to make illegal substances) that the tools for law enforcement and for farmers to help secure their premises are not always accurate.”
I am not sure what they mean by saying the tools are not “accurate”, but in any case as you read the rest of the bill you find there is no other mention of anhydrous ammonia (a horrible nitrate based fertilizer and possible ingredient in crystal methamphetamine), and little mention of food security,in fact the bills author never actually uses the words food security again. This is in addition the overall attack on environmental and animal rights activists in the US. So you may ask what is in bill S5172-2011?
Well mostly lettered sections of legal definitions of the words A. farm animal, B. farm, C. release, D. person, E. notice etc. It is when you get to section F that you find the actual purpose of the bill. It does not give a harsher sentence for persons posing as a farm employee to get meth ingredients, or special provisions against food terrorism, instead it bans:
“THE INJECTION OF ANY UNAUTHORIZED SUBSTANCE, THE RELEASE OF A FARM ANIMAL, THE UNAUTHORIZED FEEDING OR UNAUTHORIZED VIDEO, AUDIO RECORDING OR PHOTOGRAPHY DONE WITHOUT THE FARM OWNER’S WRITTEN CONSENT.”
None of this has to do with food security, only corporate security. If the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Dept. Of Agriculture (USDA) do not do their jobs, you could actually get up to a year in jail, and a fine, not to mention legal fees (for both sides), and even the possibility of paying for the animal if you release it, IF you or your group decides to try to do an undercover report with a video camera. This law is obviously written to stem the efforts of groups like PETA, not to stop terrorists or illegal drug makers.
On top of this Draconian laws provisions, are the lack of exemptions which are also telling. “Farm Animals” covered by this bill are “Any warm or cold blooded animal which is being used in the production of food or fiber for agricultural purposes.” First of all, I am not sure what “cold blooded animals” live on New York farms, and second, this means ANY farm animal you see being mistreated or abused, and then video record it for proof, could put you in legal limbo. Does a dog who works on a farm count here? If the dog is being used “in the production process”, such as a shepherd, recording its abuse, or attempting to save it, would land you in court and possibly jail. Trying to save ANY animal that lives on a farm becomes almost impossible. Its ridiculous, and it DOES NOT make food safer or stop drug proliferation.
If you live in New York or Iowa, call your state rep, your Governor, even your local politicians and tell them you do not want to see S5172-2011 pass, if you live outside of New York or Iowa, call anyways, keep calling lets flood these animal haters with mail, phonecalls, anything to stop this attack on activists and the animals they protect!
*if you like this article I recommend Will Potters book, “Green Is The New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege.”