America’s Prosecutors Join ALDF in Opposing an Industry Trying to Suppress the Facts: Factory Farming and Ag Gag

Posted by Scott Heiser, Director of ALDF's Criminal Justice Program on December 27, 2011

With the steady stream of shocking undercover video documenting abuses of America’s “food animals” making it into our regular media diet, I am not at all surprised that the factory meat/egg/dairy industries are trying to suppress the free flow of information about their operations. In what I believe to be a tacit admission by the industry that they know they cannot win a debate on the merits of the production methods they employ, they are now pushing state bills that, if passed, would criminalize the collection of damning evidence (a/k/a “ag gag” bills). Such a move proving once again the old adage, “If you can’t win on the facts, then silence your critics.” This is an understandable development in an industry that has so much to be ashamed of (e.g., veal crates, castration without pain control, gestation/farrowing crates, tie-stalls, de-beaking–and the list goes on).

Three states entertained ag gag bills last legislative season (Florida, Minnesota and Iowa)–none passed. However, don’t let that fact lull you into complacency: Florida’s ag gag bill was reintroduced just a couple of days ago and three other states (Kansas, Montana, and North Dakota) have had variations on ag gag laws on the books for several years now (adopted as part of each state’s equivalent to the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act).

As attorneys working in the justice system, where the truth is supposed to have some relevance in the outcome of a case (the exclusionary rule notwithstanding), ALDF opposes these ag gag bills. I am pleased to report that both the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA) and the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) have joined ALDF in this fight. America’s two preeminent national prosecutors associations are united in their condemnation of the industry’s attempt to prevent undercover scrutiny of its conduct. In a joint letter signed by NDAA, APA, ALDF and others, both NDAA and APA point out that in addition to being profoundly poor public policy, these legislative attempts to restrict citizens’ flow of information to law enforcement sets a dangerous precedent that encourages other industries with enough political clout to seek similar preferential treatment. If the agriculture lobby is entitled to special “protection” from the collection of admissible and highly relevant evidence of criminal conduct, then why not afford the same courtesy to the insurance industry, securities traders, or big pharmaceutical companies?

We work with prosecutors on a daily basis to help them achieve the best possible outcomes in animal cruelty cases, so it comes as no surprise that we share a common view in opposition of these ag gag bills. Nevertheless, I am very pleased that both APA and NDAA have joined us in this fight.


2 thoughts on “America’s Prosecutors Join ALDF in Opposing an Industry Trying to Suppress the Facts: Factory Farming and Ag Gag

  1. Lisa says:

    In what is supposed to be a free and open society, the fact that the AETA and ag gag bills exist is bewildering. Glad to see the prosecutors DON’T want to have to enforce this kind of thing.

  2. Vet Barnes says:

    Knowing that PeTA was convicted in the German High court of paying for the abuse they video taped of an animal being skinned alive how do we know these videos are not manufactured by the videmaker.

    We have a right to know the truth and yet many of these videos don’t show the face of the person doing the violence and the maker never tells the owner of the factory who is doing this stuff. I know farmers and they would never hurt their animals like these videos show. Also we know ALDF is intent on removing all domestic animals from the food chain for human beings. So their motives are not necessarily objective.

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