Opinion: What the 'ag gag' bills mean to my farm
April 19th, 2013
02:15 PM ET
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Ryan Goodman is a generational rancher from Arkansas with a degree in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Tennessee, studying beef cattle management. Goodman is one of many farmers using social media to bridge the gap between farmers and urban customers. Follow his story daily at AgricultureProud.com or on Twitter and Facebook.

Editor's note: So-called "ag gag" bills proposed in states across the country would either require anyone who videotapes, photographs or records incidents of animal cruelty to turn over the evidence to authorities within 24-48 hours or prohibit the making of undercover videos, photographs and sound recordings on farms, depending on local legislation. Proponents say that these laws protect agriculture business. Opponents say they hinder free speech, food safety and animal and worker rights. One such law, HF 589, has already been signed into law in Iowa and makes it illegal for investigative journalists and activists to take jobs at animal facilities for the purpose of recording undercover footage.

There are several critics of bills being passed into law at the state-level across the country. These so-called “ag gag” bills are making news in publications like the New York Times. Op-eds with headlines “Open the Slaughterhouses” bring about much support, as seen in a Times reader's response “Silencing Witnesses to Animal Abuse.“

What does the threat of undercover video mean to me as a cattle producer or as an employee of a concentrated animal feeding operation (often called a CAFO)?

These locations where undercover footage is being obtained are not just “large, corporate factory farms,” these places are potentially the homes and businesses of farming families across the country.

When someone walks into my family’s cattle barn, they are more than welcome. Next to making sure our animals are being taken care of, we are in the business of hosting our customers. If we are not in the middle of feeding, handling or marketing cattle, we will be glad to entertain questions and even allow reporters and cameras in for a story about what we do. A perfect example of this is last year’s visit to our farm from CBS News and numerous visits from local television affiliates.

If those folks walked into our barns and saw an act of animal abuse occurring, they should report it immediately. There’s no need to wait, let it stew and hope for more “proof” to stir up some dust. There’s no need to edit the footage for content or add a narrative. Report it to the supervisors, owners, or call the authorities. Be done with it and let the criminal system do its job.

If those folks walked into our barns with an intent to capture footage, piece it together and narrate it to depict scenes of animal abuse, we would feel violated; as would our neighbors, friends and other family businesses like ours. This is what has happened and likely led to many farmers' apprehension about being open and transparent to those asking questions.

That fear of being the next target is what I felt one morning working in the Texas feedlots. It was Sunday, so I was splitting time, helping the pen riding crew ride through their cattle for the day, when I saw an unfamiliar black car slowly rolling down the drive a few rows over. The car crept along, driving close to the feed bunks with the back window rolled down halfway, then a camera came out the window.

I wasn’t sure what they were doing, but I knew that there wasn’t any particular reason for someone to be taking pictures of the cattle in our hospital pens. Yes, the cattle looked unhealthy. That’s why they were pulled away from the general population to be monitored and allowed to have free access to water and fresh feed as they recuperated from what was often respiratory illnesses or digestive upset.

There was nothing wrong with taking pictures of those cattle. But at the same time, I wasn’t sure what reason an unfamiliar car would have to drive up and take photos without stopping to introduce themselves first.

It turned out, one of our cowboys had the day off and his in-laws had come to visit. They were out for a Sunday drive and wanted to see where he worked. It just as easily could have been someone with negative intentions, as in the many other scenes I had witnessed online. We didn’t want to be the next target of inaccurate propaganda.

I cannot speak from personal experience about slaughterhouses, but can tell you there have been several efforts made in recent years to improve transparency and put in place audit systems to ensure proper animal welfare measures are effective.

The issue here for me isn’t trying to cover up animal abuse. It is allowing those who are not familiar with livestock production, who may have motivation to do harm and paint a picture before making sure the statements are accurate. Farmers like my family are more than happy to walk you through our farms, but first let’s introduce ourselves and find out what you want to learn.

Our country doesn’t need another law telling us how to act behind the gates. We need encouragement for better transparency without harassment from others seeking to place blame and mislead for personal gain.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ryan Goodman.

Got a question for Ryan or any of our other farmers? Please share it below and we'll do our best to have a great conversation.

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soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Ana

    These companies have been desperately trying to paint themselves as victims for over a decade. They are profiting from the inhumane rearing and slaughter of animals. The abject terror endured by these animals at every step of this insidious process makes me ashamed of my species. As the government continues to crack down on the animal rights movement, we're forced further underground and into more direct action. We've been shown, time and time again, that staying within the boundaries of the law does not work.

    July 3, 2014 at 10:12 am |
  2. Ceci

    If the product I buy can not be regularly inspected on a surprise note, obviously they have a lot to hide. The product will end up with salmanila, or ecoli, or full of chemicals we don't need. I have quit eating meat after the news of pink slime, ecoli, and yes the chemicals of GMO secretly added. Now only products who are officially labeled "No GMO".

    June 10, 2013 at 10:52 am |
  3. Beverly Levitt

    Farmers are sounding more like politicians every day. Maybe it's because half of them are in each other's back pockets. Something clear to see when you look at campaign donations made to our Senators and Congress by every aspect of this industry from breeders to meat packers. If you're not practicing methods that don't violate our anti cruelty for slaughtering animals or handling them, then you have nothing to worry about now do you? Of course you want no one to be able to out you when violating the law and committing horrific cruelties. Because greed over rules morals, decency, compassion and common sense. I have nothing but disgust for factory farming and grew up on a farm. There is one hell of a difference between the old time family farm and what you corporate whores are doing now. The law will turn a blind eye in the towns your in unless there is documented proof that can be aired. You know, we know it and the cops know it. Your right up there with our administration in thinking you have the right to confiscate journalists materials or stop transparency. We eat the food you produce and have a right to know how it's fed, raised, treated and butchered.

    June 9, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  4. Jeff Rosenkratz

    The only reason for these laws is large corporate farms that raise animals in horrible conditions, and slaughter them inhumanely and unhealthily. Did you know that if you raise a chicken and slaughter it properly you can eat it raw? Chicken in itself isn't actually teeming with salmonella and bacteria as they would have you believe, its the filthy way they are raised, and the way they butcher and process them that introduces these things. Yet we are supposed to believe these laws are meant to help us? or to protect small time farmers? Ok.

    May 6, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
  5. chrisrapier

    I will not and do not defend the abuse of animals. However, its worth keeping in mind that context is incredibly important. Every day for a month I had to give my cat medicine – an ointment that had to be applied directly to the eye. In order to do this with a minimum of fuss (and scratches) I worked out a system where I'd be kneeling on either side of my cat, tilting his head back, forcing one eye open, and then squeezing this good into his eye. Needless to say – anyone viewing me doing this without context might think I was torturing my cat. I'm sure my cat believed I was torturing him. That's the problem with some (some, not all) of these whistleblower videos – we just don't have the context to know what is happening sometimes. Editing and an agenda can make raw footage look like most anything. Is it actual abuse? Is what we are seeing edited to make normal practice look like abuse? Is what we are seeing reflective of reality? Greater transparency will help with that but we have to be willing to question the motives and process of the people providing the 'facts' to us.

    May 6, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • Buck

      Can you provide me with an example of how someone was filming alleged animal abuse at a farm/slaughterhouse but it turned out to be edited footage that didn't show the entire picture? Furthermore, how would someone possibly be able to fully investigate a case of animal abuse if they IMMEDIATELY have to turn in evidence as they collect it?

      May 6, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Dolphintam

      you CANNOT be serious??what kind of ridiculous comment is this? How on earth can you even BEGIN to compare putting drops into a cat's eyes with body-slamming piglets, stomping, punching, mutilating and kicking defenseless chickens/turkeys/insert name of animal victim here while laughing, cutting and boiling animals ALIVE and other horrors? I think you are really delusional when you even pretend to believe your cat's eye drops can come anywhere near the violence and horrific situations of factory (and non-factory) farm animals..have a little respect for those brutally abused animals, please,and don't try to insult our intelligence with such idiotic remarks.Please.

      May 6, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  6. counselor39@hotmail.com

    See my reply above – for some reason it made its own posting.

    May 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  7. counselor39@hotmail.com

    True, Richard, but, often times it takes TIME to get the whole story. It takes time to either find out of the "abuse" is a one-time thing, or ongoing; the product of a rogue employee, or a matter of course and conduct of the company. It also takes time to present a BALANCED story.
    Further still, in filming ANY crime, what law says that a person MUST give such evidence to law enforcement ? None that I know of; sure, it can be subpoenaed, but, the film-er still has rights to decide what HE or SHE does with the fruits of their labor.

    May 6, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  8. lsn2me

    I, for one, have had it with the behind-the-scenes cruelty to factory farm animals. if anything, surveillance cameras should be mandatory and pointed toward every nook and cranny. I am boycotting my consumption of any meat that is not true and genuine "free range" and hormone free!

    May 1, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
    • ScrewTheLaw

      I don't care about what laws they pass. People will still have the courage to go undercover an exploit these companies and I fully support that.

      May 2, 2013 at 12:27 am |
    • ScrewTheLaw

      And . . . I 100% agree Isn2me.

      May 2, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • counselor39@hotmail.com

      ...and I agree with Screwthatlaw.
      They're already trying to make it illegal to film a cop, all the while the cameras keep multiplying on you and me.
      I say, let the filming continue – let the film-ee respond if and when a problem arises.
      IF the film-er taints or cuts/pastes to where the story is a hack job, there are common law remedies for defamation, false light, and the like.
      Those in power WANT to keep secrets; our society should not be tolerant of ANY attempts to quash OUR right to know, to investigate and to hold accountable.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  9. Richard

    I believe the different sides are discussing different subjects. The ag bill supporters are all for making sure any animal abuse gets reported so that animal does not have to suffer anymore. The ag bill opponents want to be able to document ongoing animal abuse that is endemic or systemic. Both make good points. Unfortunately, to do one is not to do the other. There are few, if any, government organizations that will take interest in a single animal abuse. Almost all agencies, fed or state, I've ever heard of, require flagrant and continuing animal abuse to get moving. So it does not appear there will ever be any agreement on this as both are passionate and sincere. This legislation should be more about the factory "farms" than family farms. And more about slaughter houses than farms that sell quarters. I doubt most family farmers would tolerate poor animal care.

    May 1, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • Buck

      "The ag bill supporters are all for making sure any animal abuse gets reported" I believe that statement is almost entirely untrue. Iowa is the best example of that since they made it illegal to videotape or photograph any case of animal cruelty in a slaughter house. If you have some logical explanation of how that particular law ensures animal abuse gets reported, I'd love to hear it.

      May 7, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  10. Selma

    Ryan Goodman, I QUOTE YOU: "If those folks walked into our barns and saw an act of animal abuse occurring, they should report it immediately. There’s no need to wait, let it stew and hope for more “proof” to stir up some dust. There’s no need to edit the footage for content or add a narrative. Report it to the supervisors, owners, or call the authorities. Be done with it and let the criminal system do its job."

    If this is the case, then why not change that bill to say exactly this. NO, Instead you want to make them terrorists and stop videotaping altogether. THIS PROVES YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO HIDE. Change the bill to force them to turn over the video (unedited) straight to the authorities. NOT THE OWNER OF THE FARM BECAUSE I HIGHLY DOUBT HE DOESN'T KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON. AMEND THE BILL NOW. Whatever you do, videotaping cruelty MUST NOT END. It needs to continue to protect these animals.

    April 27, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • SlowMoneyFarm

      Selma, you quoted Ryan's comments but have you honestly read this bill? Activists reportedly sat on footage of horses being beaten, allowing it to continue, for *months*! The bill makes that a crime, and it should be! When someone is caught on camera beating a horse and you have evidence to stop it and don't, that isn't stopping cruelty.

      The original bill:
      " SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 39-14-202, is amended by adding the following language as a new, appropriately design ated subsection:
      ( ) Any person who records by photograph or video a violation of subsection (a)
      as committed against livestock shall, within twenty-four (24) hours of the photograph's or recording’s creation:
      (1) Report such violation to law enforcement authorities; and
      (2) Submit any unedited photographs or video recordings to law enforcement authorities. "

      It was amended to 48 hours instead of 24. Why is this offensive? This is what you say you're agreeing with, yet disagreeing with those here in support of it. *Convict* those doing it legally.

      April 27, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • Ryan Goodman

      Selma, I'm in no position to be able to amend the law. That request should be toward the lawmakers.

      I have nothing to hide and I am not lobbying for video taping to end. Quite the opposite, I would rather doors be opened and folks openly approach us with questions. These bills are designed to stop those with deceptive motives who want to gain from animal cruelty videos.

      May 1, 2013 at 8:53 am |
  11. stephen48739

    I agree with you, Ryan, about making laws to govern undercover tactics used by some animal welfare groups. If abuse is seen, people should report it ASAP. To delay reporting only allows the alleged abuse to continue. School teachers and hospital workers are required to report child abuse. The same should apply to those who witness cruelty to animals. When I was an animal control officer, I investigated animal cruelty for 17 years. If I got an anonymous complaint and I was able to see an emaciated animal from the road (plain view doctrine) I spoke with the owner. Often, area veterinarians would differ on what is acceptable and what was not. A conviction of animal cruelty sends a message to the community about "where the line is drawn" on acceptable animal welfare. I used a large animal veterinarian as the authority in livestock cases. His opinion determined whether prosecution was sought or not.

    April 27, 2013 at 1:07 am |
    • Selma

      Unfortunately, there are alot of corrupt officials and vets in these locations that see this cruelty and do not report it. They let it continue until the video surfaces. The bill needs to be amended so that the videotape continues but that it be turned over immediately to authorities unedited. We need to protect these animals from the abusers and corrupt officials.

      April 27, 2013 at 9:57 am |
      • Ryan Goodman

        Corrupt officials and veterinarians makes for good headlines, but is most likely not as common as some would have us to believe.

        Veterinarians must abide by a Code of Ethics as many other medical professionals must. https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Principles-of-Veterinary-Medical-Ethics-of-the-AVMA.aspx

        May 1, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • Ryan Goodman

      Thanks for that perspective Stephen! I definitely support the use of veterinarians in these cases. They have the most intimate knowledge on the health of animals and when they are in a position of harm.

      May 1, 2013 at 8:55 am |
  12. cindy

    go vegan!

    April 25, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • Dolphintam

      Agree!!put these animal torturers and their accomplices (anyone who eats meat or animal products) out of business...make the world a better place!

      May 2, 2013 at 12:00 am |
  13. frmgrl

    Living on a farm, and being as it is our livelihood – I don't support this bill. It is far too easy for people to tape or record something, edit it and take it COMPLETELY out of context when they have NO idea what they are actually seeing. I find it insane that our society is getting so caught up in animal welfare, yet no one seems to care that crazy people are walking around everywhere with guns! We also spend more time on animal welfare, than we do child welfare! Americans need to get some priorities. If you want to understand how your food gets to your table, learn about it first hand, just like you do your due diligence before you purchase a car.

    April 24, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • Elizabeth R. Demps

      my classmate's mom makes $81 hourly on the computer. She has been fired for five months but last month her pay was $17827 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this site... http:\\tinyurl.com/jhdfosf

      April 24, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Selma

      So you are telling me that seeing a man take a stick and shove it up a sow's vagina and say horrible things while doing it is taking it out of context? The videotaping needs to continue. I agree that it has to be turned over unedited but it must continue. Amend the bill.

      April 27, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • MorganG

      Working to stop animal abuse does not preclude you for also spending time and effort on other things such as the mentally ill, child abuse, etc. There is only so much time in a day. To readily take your power as a human to hurt an animal says something about that person. It would not be the sort of person I would want as my neighbor so these crazy people, who could also own guns, do need to be exposed.
      There are hundreds of instances, if not thousands, where animal abuse has been reported to authorities and absolutely nothing has been done even though the animal/s eventually died. An educated public with a voice that demands prosecution with stiff penalties is what will ultimately stop these abuses. Yes that does involve filming as proof.

      June 9, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  14. Ray

    It makes sense that a crime would be required to be reported to the authorities quickly. If there is actual abuse taking place, the authorities would be able to investigate in a timely manner, building a case for themselves as opposed to someone with an agenda (HSUS and PETA), with the potential of editing to make a point/money at the expense of truth.

    I would ask you all to remember that 97% of American farms are family owned and operated. These are folks trying to make a living, provide for their family and care for their livestock. (Healthy, happy animals also makes economic sense.) "Big ag" is a great boogey-man, propagated by "documentaries" with a decided agenda. If you have concerns about how your safe and affordable food is being grown/raised, I would highly recommend you visiting with a farmer or rancher. If you don't have any in your area, find a different way to connect and educate yourself with real sources.

    April 23, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • Novelmama

      Visit with a farmer or a rancher? I am sorry Ray, but you are seriously out of touch with how the majority of the non-farming demogrpahic lives. Are you suggesting that, in order to get information about the food they are feeding their families, it is THEIR responsibility to take a little road trip to meet with a farmer (who will in all likelihood not be the one supplying them their meat specifically). Why is it incumbent on the American consumer to dig around for information? Why are farmers and meat producers not responsible for sharing details of their farming practices? Remember: your business provides food that directly affects the health of your consumer and therefore is held to a different standard than say... a video store operator.
      While I appreciate your comment about farmers just "folks" trying to make a living and feed their families, I am not sure why they get extra credit for that, when everybody else in the country is just trying to do the same thing. And yet your suggest everyone else needs to take on the additional burden of meeting with meat producers.

      Family farms or factory farms, none of you should be concerned about investigations if in fact there are no abuses occurring. The intense push-back from the meat industry suggests that there is in fact something they don't want getting out.

      When you say "agenda", what is it you are trying to imply? Of course every organization or person has an agenda. PETA and HSUS have an agenda to prevent animal abuse. What is the agenda of the meat industry? Concern over the defamation of specific farmers. And please don't insult the intelligence of the public by suggesting it is somehow possible to EDIT footage to look like abuse when it wasn't. Stomping on injured chickens, bouncing on broken legs of sows to get them to move (a little counter-intuitive), shocking an animal 27 times to get it to move to the kill floor, how can you EDIT that into a piece?
      "Real sources", references to which you have not claimed, exist in many forms. I encourage you to read all sorts of material available on the subject, not just agri-business trade journals. hsus.org and peta.org are just two to start with.

      April 23, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
      • SlowMoneyFarm

        Why would you defend the right to *not* report those horrible actions of abuse? It needs stopped, not sent for editing, schedule a meeting, meet with media, while in those weeks the abuse continues! Then the rest of us in agriculture pay for it by association with "go vegan" messages, not stopping the abuse but change your diet.

        April 25, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
      • coveredbridgepoultry

        Are you kidding? As a consumer I am RESPONSIBLE for my choices and knowing where it comes from. If you can't be bothered to educate yourself that's your problem not mine. Many farmer's and ranchers are telling their Ag story. Check our facebook and twitter.

        I'm sorry unless anyone that is saying we need to allow anyone complete access to our farms which are our homes, is willing to allow me to come and video every detail of your life, I don't want to hear you tell me that I should allow that. We have nothing to hide, but I do have a right to my own privacy on my property.

        April 25, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
        • Selma


          April 27, 2013 at 10:05 am |
        • k9avenger

          ?! *our farms* is it ?! As in "YOU DIDN"T DO THAT!" I see.

          Well, Selma, you've been shirking your responsibility to come *muck out* the stalls.

          Grab a shovel, unless your hands are full. it's apparent you're already carrying a torch and pitchfork.

          April 27, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
  15. Novelmama

    To say that the ag-gag bills are being presented to prevent cruelty to animals is disingenuous and ill informed. If farmers/CAFO operators/meat producers want video tape turned over immediately, then also allow prosecution under Animal Welfare laws based on single occurrence rather than requiring proof of long term systemic abuse. You can't have it both ways.
    And what about employee protection? Can you honestly tell me that a reporting employee would be retained in their employment after reporting abuse? There absolutely have been instances of employees expressing concern over animal treatment, not just investigators. But employees whose livelihood depend on this job have no incentive to report individual ongoing abuses; it would the end of their paychecks. So if not investigators, then who will hold the industry accountable?

    Also, meat producers in this industry have an elevated responsibility to the consumer than say, an accountant or clothing designer. The public health is at issue and their rights to have meat producers held accountable for what is being put on the general market for consumption supersedes any "defamation" concerns.

    It is curious to note that many of the sponsors of these bills either received campaign money from agri-business groups or are themselves meat producers. Case in point: Rep Andy Holt of TN runs a swine farm. ( clearly not the pumpkin-patch-visiting-Santa version of the farm presented on his farm's website for Holt Family Farm.).
    Lastly, PETA and HSUS investigations were responsible for getting "downer" cows out of the meat stream for the National School Lunch Program in the early 2000's. You're welcome. Unless of course, you would PREFER the potential for mad cow disease. It is up to you.

    April 22, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
    • Selma

      WELL SAID. I say amend the bill. Make both sides happy. Allow the vidoetaping to continue but enforce that they be turned over immediately to authorities. Not the owners of the farms as they may be corrupt as well. There are some that are not aware of what is going on, but then again, there are some that are most likely telling them to do it this way.

      April 27, 2013 at 10:07 am |
  16. virginiafoodfreedom

    What could solve all this arguing is on-farm-processing. Consumers should have the choice on what their definition of humanely raised is, and decide from whom they will buy their meats and how it was raised, feed-lot or pasture. Right now the Federal government controls all the meat in this nation, and the big Companies ( NCBA) control the government. We pay for it ( taxes) and they make all the rules and profits. When consumers have a choice on whom to buy their meat and how it was raised, as was done traditionally in this country and before in the colonies, we will have freedom and tranparency. What we need to do now is give the states back the right to control their own meats. When that happens, Consumers will have choice, farmers will have transparency. small towns will have butcher shops and all of us will have freedom~ which is very, very good.

    April 22, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • SlowMoneyFarm

      There is freedom to do that *NOW*! You can choose small farm produced meats and employ those small town processing facilities! Consumers *do* have a choice! They in action choose to buy from large operations a large part of the time, based on price and convenience. There are many of us out here who *are* providing food choices direct to consumer, processed in approved small town facilities. We cannot force people to choose us...but it doesn't mean there aren't choices...there most certainly are!

      April 25, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
      • Selma

        Seriously? You are out of touch. If what lolaggag said could happen, there would be more "local" butchers like there used to be in the cities. With prices of naturally raised beef and gas, you honestly think that the average consumer can afford that? I live out in the country and I know how much a family pack costs. IT'S HORRIBLY HIGH. Add the price of gas to that and a 2 hour drive into the country, who do you honestly think can afford that. The bus does not come to the country. People have no choice but to buy that crappy, drugged up, processed and tortured meat that the industry sells. We need to amend the bill to allow the videotaping but enforce that it be turned over unedited immediately to authorities. Seriously, what do you have to hide?

        April 27, 2013 at 10:13 am |
        • SlowMoneyFarm

          It's funny that you should ask what we have to hide. Because if you click on that little link – you can SEE pictures of our animals, gardens etc going back a couple of years. That isn't transparent enough, apparently, as it sounds like you're saying it's not real. If these unaltered, unedited pictures and videos are not honest then why are edited ones?

          There *are* still small processors/butchers around. I know because we have two family run places, both USDA inspected, on tap when we get demand to use them. I wonder how many people when looking at those packs also look at their entire grocery bill for 3 months, or 6 months or a year? How overwhelming would that be? Because by the pound, we can do pork competitive with the store, but need viable support to do so.

          The bill allows videotaping *if* it's turned over to authorities within 48 hours. So if we agree on that, why the animosity? Have you even looked at what we do before attacking me? Here's the thing – I know coming up with $1500 is tough – but set up ways for folks to break that into payments. Not one person did. I set CSA produce at less than $20 per week *delivered* to Birmingham AL or Nashville TN. *Delivered!* Now I'm sorry but if folks can't justify $20/week – more than some spend on coffees – then it's just not a big priority. That's where food choices come into play.

          There is always a way – barter is an option if folks are that strapped for cash. I haven't known too many farmers that would let someone go hungry if they sincerely wanted food. Our farms *are* our homes. It's where we live every day. The assumption that if we don't allow strangers in we're then hiding something evil is just not true. You can believe it, but it's not true.

          As an NPIP certified place, we cannot allow a stream of visitors – that's regulations we agreed to in the interest of health and safety of our birds and our customers. We make extra effort, then, to be transparent showing video and photos online where *everyone* can see it, not just customers. That, still, isn't enough? That tells me it's not about transparency, it's not about eliminating cruelty but it's about eliminating. Nothing in this bill stops someone from recording and turning it in to authorities. It stops recording and hanging onto it for weeks until it appears to the media with "go vegan" slogans, while allowing the cruelty to continue for all those weeks. The places that are abusing animals need to pay...it needs to be stopped.

          April 27, 2013 at 10:46 am |
  17. roy

    The question, for me, could only be answered "other". It would depend upon the specifics of the legislation. Harming the farmer is certainly no better than harming an animal. Abuse is too much of a personal opinion.

    I like the world I grew up in. It had no video tape in it at the time. No easy access to digital cameras, and no easy method of distribution for images. If a person was of honest intent, they came and knocked on the front door, and were welcomed, or not. If they did NOT come to the front door, they were trespassers.

    Somewhere, it got way too complicated.

    April 22, 2013 at 8:50 am |
    • Selma

      That's right. Back in the day when child abuse was hush hush and babies being raped was never spoken of. Yep, it was better that we didn't know what happened back then. Ignorance is bliss.

      April 27, 2013 at 10:15 am |
  18. Farmer's Daughter

    Unless you're willing to allow me unfettered access to your private home, then you're a complete hypocrite. See animal abuse? Report. Posting a video on FB or anywhere else is only propaganda for HSUS and PETA, not some act done to help animals. http://www.thefarmersdaughterusa.com/

    April 22, 2013 at 7:40 am |
    • Selma

      We are not asking to see the inside of your private home and what goes on there little girl. What we want is to see how OUR LIVESTOCK, NOT YOURS, is being treated before it dies. IT'S OUR RIGHT AS WE ARE PAYING FOR IT AND IT'S THAT ANIMALS RIGHT TO NOT BE ABUSED. A farm is not a private facility unless you are raising all that me for your consumption only and not selling it to the public. Since you are selling it to the public, I should know what is happening to it. ANIMALS SHOULD NOT BE ABUSED. AMEND THE BILL TO ENFORCE THE WHISTLE BLOWERS TO TURN THE VIDEOS TO AUTHORITIES IMMEDIATELY AND UNEDITED. WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO HIDE? THIS CAN WORK FOR BOTH SIDES. IF YOU CARE ABOUT THE LIVESTOCK AND YOU HONESTLY TREAT THEM RIGHT, THERE'S NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT.

      April 27, 2013 at 10:19 am |
  19. bestuvall

    This bill is being miscategorized as an "ag gag" bill. It's anything but. This bill requires that entities recording cruelty while undercover at farms turn over full video to law enforcement within 48 hours. What it does is establish a working relationship with the accuser and law enforcement to ensure that what is being documented is truly abuse and cruelty, and is not being edited for effect after the fact by the accuser - in other words, altering evidence. This doesn't mean that a pattern of abuse can't be established over time, it simply means that law enforcement MUST be involved from start to finish. It also means that animals which have been grievously injured can get the care needed immediately if necessary, which hasn't happened with extended surveillance procedures - to allow animals to languish in pain simply to document cruelty to me is far more cruel. Please contact the Tennessee governor and tell him to please sign this bill!

    April 22, 2013 at 1:43 am |
    • Selma

      Where did you get that from? The now passed Kanasas Ag-gag bill 47-1827(c)(4) specifically says and I quote "(c) No person shall, without the effective consent of the owner and with the intent to damage the enterprise conducted at the animal facility: (4) enter an animal facility to take pictures by photograph, video camera or by any other means.

      Now you know that consent to videotape will NEVER be permitted don't you? Secondly, if caught "47-1828. Recovery of damages state "(a) Any person who has been damaged by reason of a violation of K.S.A. 47-1827, and amendments thereto may bring an action in the district court against the person causing the damage to recover: (1) An amount equal to three times all actual and consequential damages." An amount THREE TIMES the actual cost. Animal abuses get a small fine and a slap on the wrists. How is this just???

      This is the tone or ALL THE AG-GAG BILLS and this one PASSED!

      April 27, 2013 at 11:06 am |
  20. avr

    The point is it takes many months (or weeks) to gather evidence in animal abuse investigations and this is a twisted ploy by the farm industry to stop such investigations. Too bad for them we have a 1st amendment.

    April 21, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • Relmond Johnson

      It's not that you can't speak up, it's about speaking up NOW!

      Report what you see others do that you believe to be illegal to the law enforcement authority, NOW.



      That's the long and the short version. NO WAY around it.

      April 22, 2013 at 1:29 am |
      • 3monkeys

        Your logic is flawed. If reports of a single episode of abuse were to occur this might pertain. But to have proof of habitual abuse of animals requires more than a NOW, simple snap shot in time. It requires many snapshots to create a time line and to identify the perpertrators. You know its called Detective work. The FBI and other agencies seem to be able to do it. That private eye watching you for a month to gather evidence you are cheating on your boy friend does it. How is this any different?

        April 22, 2013 at 9:42 am |
        • Mark L

          No one is saying you cant build a case. You just cant do it on your own. Once abuse is seen, report it to the authorities and then THEY can buld the case against the law breakers. They may even want you to stay and keep recording evidence.

          April 22, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
        • zweberfarms

          Actually PI's and FBI are very different. In 42 states and many cities, you need a license and to register to operate as a PI. FBI agents follow an oath and federal regulations.

          In my state I am not allowed to trespass to gather evidence without a warrant, I also am not allowed to record actions and conversations which I am not a party of. Also, our state, like many, have strict defamation laws. All this combined makes undercover animal rights videos illegal.

          For example, in my state no one is allowed to "gather" evidence on their own without proper authority or license by standing on the road recording what I am doing and what I am saying, unless I am speaking directly to the recording party. A pattern of abuse can be established by actually calling the appropriate authorities to file a complaint. These complaints can be made anonymous and therefore protecting you from employment dismissal. Evidence that you gather on your own will most likely be thrown out in court. Also, withholding evidence can be viewed as aiding the crime. Lastly, releasing said video through social media channels first without contacting the proper authorities can be used against you in a defamation case.

          People often forget about the 5th and 6th Amendments when speaking about these type of bills. Our society needs to be more strict on defamation laws, trespassing laws, and properly penalizing people who gather evidence without proper licence.

          So to answer the question, Yes I am for laws that protect my 5th and 6th Amendment rights and protect me, my family and our business from defamation.

          April 23, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
        • 3monkeys@zweberfarms

          I'm with you. But these laws prevent even PIs from investigating. This means there is absolutely no transparency to how Americas food is being processed. And tell now, what state or Federal Agency has the resources to investigate every animal abuse or illegal slaughter practices charge? The point is that with these laws in place there is no legal option for investigations outside of a government investigation. And we all know what a great job the FDA has been doing keeping tainted peanuts, lettuce and meat products out of Americas food supply.

          And I find it odd that a cattle farmer would bring this up because it is the chicken farmers and pig farmers that deal with greater quantities of livestock and by their farming methods have a far greater chance to have abuse occur. Serious, one good steer is worth between 2 – 3 thousand dollars to slaughter. A chicken is worth about a dollar. A pig, several hundred dollars.

          It's a case of economics, what does the slaughterhouse have to loose by culling livestock? Are its practices so bad that it's cheaper to hide them than correct them?

          April 24, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • doug

      avr.. I just do not understand your point.. is it that you are willing to see animals suffer and be abuse for MONTHS in order to put together some sort of "case"? How does that sit with your conscience..how do you live with the fact that it is ok for some animals to be abused in order to save others..Mike of course this bill is in the best interest of the animals.. but the HSUS etc who oppose these measures rally don;t care about animals.. only about money

      April 22, 2013 at 1:49 am |
    • k9avenger

      "Hey! Let's make a video to show what these AG-GAG bills will be hiding!", you said.

      "The public deserves to know what cruelty could be taking place. What harm would it do?", you said.

      "What could go wrong with a little white lie?", you said.


      Ask the ASPCA, who just settled out-of-court for $100M on a complaint of organized crime activity against Ring-Ling Bros., Barnum and Bailey Circus.

      May 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  21. Relmond Johnson

    Why are the "Animal Rights" goons upset about laws requiring reports of abuse to be filed within 48 hours of occurrence?

    They won't be able to "make hay" by selectively editting bits and pieces of footage to juice-up their manufactured anti-agriculture fund-raising ads and commercials.

    It's about the money scam for them, not about animal welfare.

    April 21, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • Relomnd Johnson doesn't Understand

      Because, genius, if the act isn't reported within the 48 hour window, then no crime is assumed to have taken place.

      They are trying to define that animal abuse has a 48 hour statute of limitations. Would you like other crimes to have a 48 hour statute of limitation? Can't catch a rapist in 48 hours, well shucks, he musta not dun it!

      April 22, 2013 at 4:41 am |
      • Relmond Johnson

        No, Idjut, ON THE CONTRARY Relmond Johnson understands ALL TOO WELL.

        Waiting and delaying more than 48 hours makes the observer an ACCOMPLICE to any abuse.

        You couldn't be any more silly if you tied a bath towel over your shoulders and claimed to be the caped crusader.

        Those who argue against these bills, as they are headed towards becoming laws, reveal their ugly base motives and agenda, that being to subvert all forms of animal husbandry.

        It's not necessary to have a special secret de-coder ring to understand that warped mindset at work.

        April 22, 2013 at 8:13 am |
      • SlowMoneyFarm

        Nope – if you see a rapist and take 3 weeks to edit it for the media, it doesn't bring the rapist to justice *now* for the illegal act he has done! Working with law enforcement documents *and* can document repeatedly. Looking the other way to allow it to continue is not stopping the action.

        April 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • 3monkeys

      I'm no animal rights goon. I am a citizen of the US who see's a government gag order on my constitutional right. I see large agriculture corporations, ones with a few politicians in their pockets, working on underhanded ways to make sure they won't be sued for what is a common occurrence. We can be pretty certain that cattle farmers are going to take the best care of their stock they can and this is because each animal is gold on the hoof – the better the animal, the more the gold. The real abuse seems to occur around the slaughter houses. If you recall, it took weeks of investigation to culminate a case. For instance the cow which was later tested and found to have bovine spongiform encephalopathy in California. He said, she said does not hold up in court. If the individuals had not recorded a regular practice of animal abuse and the slaughter of animals that by FDA standards shouldn't be in the stock yard, a case would have never been made. This company and the group responsible for such actions within the company would still be doing what they were doin. And consumers of beef would be at risk. And then All Beef Farmers would be lumped together for slipping tainted food into our markets.
      And if this were to happen on a regular basis, then we might as well all get our beef from China.

      What angers most people is that it is a threat against Constitutional rights. First the beef, next the chickens and pork. What next can't people concerned about welfare and safety investigate? Terrorists?

      April 22, 2013 at 9:57 am |
  22. Kevin

    Interesting how the media distorts the truth by calling it a gag bill when the goal is to get the photographer/videographer to turn over evidence immediatly. How is that gagging?

    April 20, 2013 at 10:02 am |
  23. SlowMoneyFarm

    No matter what we do there will be critics. No one should be lying on applications, using false identities etc to and some of these laws address that – I think that is a good thing. I think there should be penalties for false reporting as well – if it's done for harassment rather than legitimate cruelty it takes time and resources. I think many places are more open than ever, but it's still not enough for some. If collecting evidence it *should* be turned in promptly. If it needs edited and condensed to make the case then it perhaps isn't as strong as it seems. If it's over the top inexcusable cruelty, then editing, context, narration etc isn't needed. I think that large or small operation we all have the right to privacy and to have our operations secure for the safety and welfare of the animals.

    April 20, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  24. dairycarrie

    Thanks for sharing my post and viewpoint as well Ryan.

    April 20, 2013 at 9:13 am |
  25. lolaggag

    Oh no! Some evil 'gotcha' journalist might just come along and put footage of your poor ol' mom and pop farm in a big bad documentary! We'd better use the giant hand of government to slap that jerk's mouth shut!

    Mr. Goodman, you can go jump in a lake. The issue may not be covering up animal abuse at YOUR farm, but that doesn't change the fact that that's exactly what this bill will do.

    Our rights under the First Amendment supersede your desire to maybe be painted in a bad light. And if you disagree, then you have the full range of defamation and libel laws available to you to help rectify that situation.

    Imagine what poor shape our country would be in if they used a bill like this to shut up Upton Sinclair. I shudder.

    April 19, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • doug

      Just as there are remedies against libel and slander there are also punishments for lying and falsify records when obtaining employment.
      The bill is wrongly named as it does just the opposite of what the animal rights and people like lolggag s "eloquently put it" ( not).
      This bill protects our animals and our food supply.
      As for Mr Sinclair.. I think it would find this bill a good one.. after all who wants to see any animal suffer to create a pattern of abuse. The bill does just the opposite of what you saying. It requires quick and timely reporting of abuse to the authorities so that LESS animals suffer and that our food supply remains safe.
      Far from "covering up" the abuse it makes it mandatory to report it as soon as it happen so that less animals suffer.. isn't that what all animal rights people want?? Less animal suffering. Isn't that what you want LOLagag ? or would you prefer to see more animals suffer for a longer period of time? if so well them that =makes you no better than the abuser.

      April 22, 2013 at 1:37 am |
  26. Mike Haley

    I don't support ag gag bills, however I am confused how a bill requiring abuse too be exposed when documented is an ag gag bill. It seems to me that requiring abuse to be reported would be in the best interest to the animals would it not?

    April 19, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
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