“We love busting animal-abusers. If they want to take away our rights, having based my entire career on this one thing, there's no way I will sit by as this happens.”
That’s what one undercover animal activist said recently in an ABC News interview, vowing to fight so-called “ag gag” laws being passed in many states across the country.
The activist, identified only as "Pete," was behind a 2012 undercover video released of alleged animal abuse at the Bettencourt Dairies’ Dry Creek Dairy facility near Hansen, Idaho. The video led to changes in dairy employee training and vetting across Idaho, as well as probation for one of the three workers charged in the case.
But, as ABC News pointed out, these undercover investigations may be radically transformed as more states work to pass laws to protect farmers and ranchers from activists, including prohibiting them from gaining employment under false pretenses and waiting months before reporting the abuse to authorities.
In recent years, some states have proposed or passed bills that give undercover activists 24 hours to submit unedited copies of footage to law enforcement for further investigation. Tennessee is the latest to propose an “ag gag” bill, which was approved by the House Agriculture Subcommittee earlier this week. Read more here.
A total of nine state legislatures are considering an “ag gag” bill.
For activists like Pete, these laws only protect animal abuse. For livestock producers, however, it’s a way to prevent groups from strategically editing the footage and releasing it to the law enforcement and the public in a well-planned media frenzy months after filming. However, in the process, the laws also make the industry less transparent to consumers.
In a 2012 poll on PorkNetwork.com, 73 percent of respondents indicated that they do not believe that “ag gag” laws help agriculture. See the poll here.
Meanwhile, animal activist "Pete" notes that he will work with the Mercy for Animals’ legal teams to work around the “ag gag” laws to continue to expose animal abuse.
"We'll find a way,” Pete warned. “There's going to be a way we keep doing this."