Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 8:28 EDT

Broad Spectrum of National Interest Groups Sign On to Oppose “Ag-Gag” Laws That Seek to Ban Farm Investigations

February 23, 2012

Groups represent animal protection, civil liberties, environmental, health, food safety and workers’ concerns

NEW YORK, Feb. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Twenty-seven national groups representing a wide spectrum of public interests have signed on to a statement opposing proposed “ag-gag” legislation that is being considered in states around the country. These bills seek to criminalize investigations that reveal animal abuse and could suppress critical information about the production of animal products on agricultural facilities.

The statement, which is being provided to lawmakers who are currently reviewing ag-gag legislation, was organized by a coalition of national animal welfare organizations that have come together to collectively combat these harmful proposals. These organizations include the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), Compassion Over Killing, Farm Forward, Farm Sanctuary, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), In Defense of Animals and Mercy For Animals (MFA).

The statement reads in part*:

“These bills represent a wholesale assault on many fundamental values shared by all people across the United States. Not only would these bills perpetuate animal abuse on industrial farms, they would also threaten workers’ rights, consumer health and safety, and the freedom of journalists, employees and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply. We call on state legislators around the nation to drop or vote against these dangerous and un-American efforts.”

In addition to the aforementioned animal organizations, the following groups representing civil liberties, public health, food safety, environmental, food justice, legal, workers’ rights and First Amendment interests signed on to the statement: A Well-Fed World; Brighter Green; Center for Constitutional Rights; Center for Science in the Public Interest; The Cornucopia Institute; Earth Policy Institute; Earth Save; Food and Water Watch; Food Empowerment Project; Government Accountability Project; National Freedom of Information Coalition; National Press Photographers Association; Natural Resources Defense Council; Organic Consumers Association; Slow Food USA; T. Colin Campbell Foundation; United Food and Commercial Workers International Union; Whistleblower Support Fund; and Youth for Environmental Sanity.

In a recent poll commissioned by the ASPCA, it was revealed that 71 percent of Americans support undercover investigative efforts by animal welfare organizations to expose animal abuse on industrial farms and 64 percent oppose making such efforts illegal. Additionally, 94 percent of Americans feel that it is important to have measures in place to ensure that food coming from farm animals is safe for people to eat, and 94 percent agree that animals raised for food on farms deserve to be free from abuse and cruelty.

Some of the horrific cruelties committed on industrial farms have been exposed by investigators from such animal welfare groups as The HSUS, MFA and Compassion Over Killing. These include newborn piglets screaming in pain at breeding facilities in Oklahoma, workers kicking and stomping on turkeys at a Butterball facility in North Carolina, dairy calves being stabbed repeatedly with pitchforks on an Ohio dairy farm, and ducks being tortured at the nation’s largest foie gras factory farm.

Undercover farm investigations have also led to the disclosure of crucial health and welfare information and many groundbreaking reforms, including a ban on cruel confinement systems in California, the closure of a massive slaughterhouse that was shipping meat from sick animals to public schools, and the development of humane slaughter protocols.

This year, ag-gag legislation is being considered in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York and Utah. Ag-gag proposals were also being considered as part of two bills in Florida, but lawmakers in January decided to remove the controversial language after pressure from constituents and animal protection groups. In addition to industrial farms, these bills have the potential to shield slaughter plants and puppy mills from legitimate investigations.

*Full text available upon request

About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first humane organization established in the Americas and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animal welfare. One million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. The ASPCA, which is headquartered in New York City, offers a wide range of programs, including a mobile clinic outreach initiative, its own humane law enforcement team, and a groundbreaking veterinary forensics team and mobile animal CSI unit. For more information, please visit www.aspca.org.

To become a fan of the ASPCA on Facebook, go to http://www.facebook.com/aspca. To follow the ASPCA on Twitter, go to http://www.twitter.com/aspca.

About Compassion Over Killing
Compassion Over Killing (COK) is a nonprofit animal protection organization based in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Since 1995, COK has worked to end the abuse of animals in agriculture through undercover investigations, public outreach, litigation, and other advocacy programs. COK is on the web at COK.net.

About Farm Sanctuary
Farm Sanctuary promotes legislative, policy, and individual lifestyle changes to help farm animals. Farm Sanctuary’s shelters in New York and California provide lifelong care for nearly 1,000 rescued farm animals. For more information, please visit farmsanctuary.org.

About In Defense of Animals
In Defense of Animals (IDA) has been in the forefront of protecting the rights, welfare and habitat of animals since 1983.

About Mercy For Animals
Mercy For Animals is a national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty to farmed animals and promoting compassionate food choices and policies. MFA works to fulfill its mission through education campaigns, undercover cruelty investigations, legal advocacy and animal welfare corporate outreach. For more information, visit www.MercyForAnimals.org.


Source: PR Newswire