There’s a time to sit around and observe (and maybe even criticize) what’s going on around you. And there’s a time to speak up and do something about it! This is a time to speak up.
In Pennsylvania, as in my other states around the nation, there is some dangerous legislation about to be introduced. You may have already heard the buzz as it has been making headlines near and far. There was a story on the cover of the Post Gazette today, there have been discussions on Huff Post Live, and there was even an appearance on the Ellen Show last week. Perhaps the most comprehensive explanation of the issue (both sides) is this debate from CNN last week.
Anti-whistleblower “ag-gag” bills aim to do one thing – to silence people that uncover animal abuse and inhumane conditions for farmed animals or farm workers. It would criminalize anyone that takes a photograph or video of any farm property without the owner’s consent. It becomes a felony to take a photo and show it to anyone.
It also threatens freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and food safety. Please don’t be fooled by the cunning language of the Ag-gag bill that is reportedly coming out of the PA Senate. The bill claims to have the support of animal protection organizations, yet I have yet to hear of any that support it. The bill claims that as long as the photographer turns over the photo only to the proper authorities, there will be no criminal charges. However, I really have to wonder who the proper authorities are.
The USDA inspectors charged with enforcing the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (which only requires animals are stunned before skinning and slaughter) are also charged with inspecting animals for signs of illness, open sores, tumors, and other things that shouldn’t end up in the food supply. It’s admittedly a tough job, but when they’re asked to “inspect” 10 billion land animals a year, well it’s downright impossible. Pigs alone are slaughtered at a national rate of 3.68 per second in less than 2 dozen slaughterhouses. Animals end up getting skinned alive and slaughtered while kicking and screaming. They get abused beyond imagination long before they even make it to the slaughterhouse. Check out this graph of animal processing rates and see if you think any authority could possibly inspect accurately.
Farmed animals are afforded zero federal protection while on the farm, and state laws are inadequate and impossible to pursue. Abuses that would result in felony charges if committed to cats and dogs are often perfectly legal if the animal is a piglet or a cow. If it’s a chicken or turkey, the story gets even worse. The most successful tactic has been for undercover employees to collect footage from factory farms and expose it to the appalled Amercian public. This has resulted in several successful prosecutions and a drastic increase in public awareness about the inhumane treatment of farm animals on factory farms.
When you read between the lines, it is perfectly clear – this bill has zero intention of cleaning up the practices on Pennsylvania’s farms. It has every intention of keeping the public from becoming aware of it. This is a disgusting abuse of power, and it needs to be stopped. The good news? We can stop it!
Take a moment to call your State Senator and make sure they know you oppose Senator Brubaker’s Ag-gag bill. The bill has not yet been introduced, so there is no bill number assigned to it. As soon as there is, you can call back and let them know! There was a memo circulated to the entire Senate seeking co-sponsorship. At this point, one of the most important things you can do is make sure your Senator does NOT co-sponsor it. Senators are always working on re-election, and when you make phone calls, they know this is an issue that may affect the way you vote in the future!
Not sure who your Senator is? Click this link to find out.
In-person meetings are even better. They all spend a significant amount of time in their local offices, so it’s usually fairly easy to get an appointment. For updates and alerts, please make sure you’re tuned into www.Humane-PA.org. You can sign up for legislative alerts here.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has. ~Margaret Mead