Stop Protection of Animal Abusers on Factory Farms

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Target: North Carolina State Legislature

Goal: Don’t criminalize undercover investigations of animal cruelty at agricultural companies.

North Carolina state legislators are currently considering a bill that would criminalize covert investigations of animal cruelty within agricultural companies. Under the law known as the NC Commerce Protection Act, if someone who is applying for a position at an agricultural company in order to film animal abuse and does not disclose his or her ties to animal welfare organizations, he or she could be charged with a misdemeanor on the first offense and a felony on the second. In addition, extra charges could be made if the individual does obtain footage and fails to turn it over to police within 24 hours. This bill is one of the newest additions to the “ag-gag” trend, and it severely undermines the ability of citizens to expose animal cruelty and government corruption while further protecting those responsible for the crimes.

The timing of this bill is no coincidence. North Carolina state Senators Brent Jackson, Wesley Meredith, and Jim Davis introduced the bill on the same day that an employee from a Butterball turkey farm in North Carolina was the fifth person to be found guilty under animal cruelty charges. The charges were a result of graphically violent video footage shot by an undercover Mercy for Animals activist at the Shannon Butterball farm. If the proposed bill becomes law, investigations such as this would be illegal, and consumers would dangerously be left in the dark when it comes to the safety of their food, the honesty of their government officials, and their consciences.

In the past two years, at least 17 similar laws have been passed across the country attempting to silence journalists, promoters of food safety, and animal welfare activists. Many of these are, unsurprisingly, heavily funded by corporate agribusiness interest groups and framed as an attempt to protect personal property and privacy. Sign the petition below to tell the state senators that the NC Commerce Protection Act must be stopped in order to protect us and the animals.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senators Brent Jackson, Wesley Meredith, Jim Davis, and members of the North Carolina Legislature,

In 2011, the animal welfare group Mercy for Animals released graphically violent video footage revealing the atrocious acts of animal cruelty that took place on the Shannon Butterball farm in North Carolina. Recently, one of the perpetrators became the fifth employee of Butterball to be found guilty under animal cruelty charges. The video footage was filmed by an undercover activist. Without it, we would have no idea of the disgusting conditions of the farm, the abusers would go unpunished (as would a former director at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture), and millions of consumers could be subject to food-borne illnesses.

On the same day that the employee was convicted, Senators Jackson, Meredith, and Davis introduced the NC Commerce Protection Act. Under the law, if someone applying for a position at an agricultural company in order to film animal abuse and does not disclose his or her ties to animal welfare organizations, he or she could be charged with a misdemeanor on the first offense and a felony on the second. In addition, extra charges could be made if the individual does obtain footage and fails to turn it over to police within 24 hours.

Although the title of the bill contains the word “protection,” the law only seeks to protect the bottom line of corporate agribusiness groups. It severely undermines the ability of citizens to expose animal cruelty, worker abuses, and government corruption while further protecting those responsible for the crimes. If signed into law, investigations like that conducted by Mercy for Animals would be illegal, and consumers would dangerously be left in the dark when it comes to the safety of their food and workplaces, the honesty of their government officials, and their consciences.

As elected officials, it is your duty to act on behalf of the interests of the citizens that elected you, not corporate interests. If you pass this bill into law, you are effectively burying the evidence in crimes against our fellow animals and the American people. We demand that this bill be stopped.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Maqi via Wikimedia Commons

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2 Comments

  1. punish all who abuse farm animals.

  2. please dont pass this barbaric law. you cannot keep the general public in the dark to animal abuse. Do the decent thing govenment official in north carolina . DONT ALLOW ANIMAL ABUSE WHEN YOU ARE WILLING TO EAT THESE POOR DEVESTATED CREATURES. ANIMALS ARE SENTINENT BEINGS AND FEEL PAIN AND FEAR LIKE HUMANS. BE HUMAINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    DENISE WEARS UNIDED KINGDOM

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