Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ag-gag Bills: Making It a Crime to Expose a Crime

Ag-gag bills are bills that have been introduced in some states by the agribusiness industry to deter—and in many cases, criminalize—the act of reporting animal abuse in factory farms. Although not all bills are the same, their purpose is: to keep the American public in the dark about animal abuse that occurs in agribusiness facilities by silencing potential whistleblowers and protecting the abusers.

To those of us who believe animals have the right to humane treatment, these ag-gag bills are just plain WRONG on so many different levels. But even those who callously claim, “They are just animals” should be concerned about these bills. Why? Because they affect the safety of our food supply.

A June 18, 2012 article by the Humane Society of the United States ( cites as an example their investigation of a slaughterhouse in California that prompted the largest recall of meat in our country’s history. The case also led to the implementation of a federal regulation banning the slaughter of adult downer cattle. In addition to animal cruelty and food safety issues, whistleblowers have also exposed unsafe working conditions and environmental problems on factory farms.
In my opinion, if the agribusiness industry has nothing to hide, why are they working so hard to make it a crime to report these abuses? Instead of putting money and effort towards correcting the problems, the industry is directing their resources towards keeping acts of cruelty hidden from the public.

Numerous studies show that there is a link between cruelty towards animals and violent crimes against humans. As a result of a decision by the FBI, animal cruelty crimes will soon be included within the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) - National Incident Based Reporting System. This will serve to better law enforcement officials’ understanding of this link and as a result, increase the likelihood that other crimes may be prevented. According to Sherry Ramsey in her article FBI Targets Animal Cruelty As a Serious Crime (, “...these cases may serve as an early warning to alert the criminal justice system to individuals who pose a future danger to the community.”

People who get pleasure from intentionally causing pain to another living being need psychological help. Making it a crime to report their abuse of animals while at work would serve to hide the red flag that so desperately needs to be exposed. Armed with the knowledge of a person’s history of animal abuse, law enforcement will be alerted to a person that should be on their radar.

Agribusiness does our society a great injustice by pushing bills meant to shield animal abusers from being held accountable for their actions. By protecting individuals that hurt those who have no voice and who feel no empathy for their victims, it in many cases enables them to continue abusing their spouse or children or commit other violent crimes. I am not saying that every individual who hurts animals also commits violent crimes against people, but I am saying there is a strong correlation between these behaviors. There is no place in the United States criminal justice system for laws that make it a crime to report a crime.

#Ag-gagbills #Ag-gaglaws #whistleblowers #animalabuse

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