Act Now: Industrial Farms Want to Make Taking Photos Illegal

This does not affect Texas yet, but it is just the kind of thing that the idots in the Texas legislature would pass if asked to by the industrial farms that contribute to their re-election efforts.

Industrial/factory pork, poultry, turkey and beef farms are well known for the terrible manner in which they raise animals and process the meat. Too often their misdeeds have been captured in photos and video by undercover persons that do not agree with what they do.

I recall the farm that hung pigs by a chain off a tractor lift and shot them when they were sick. They said that was an okay way to dispose of them. Yes, a bullet is a swift way to kill a sick animal, but to hang them off a tractor first. Give me a break.

I am sure Slow Food and others will be on the short sitck of this legislation as big ag pushes it through and soft governor’s sign it.

The following is from Slow Food. the second article is from The Miami Herald

Imagine if taking photos of farms were illegal — and
the photographer was subject to fines and possibly
jail time. If Big Ag got its way, that’s exactly what
would happen. Right now they’re pushing legislators
in Minnesota, Florida, and Iowa to criminalize taking
photos or videos of their facilities.[see note 1]
I guess industrial agriculture has something to hide.
Maybe it’s the way factory farms mistreat workers,
animals, and the environment.

farmarazzi! In the next few days we'll be calling on you for help. Plan a visit to a nearby farm (or just step outside, farmers) because we'll be holding a contest for the best farm photos, and sending a flipbook of the winning photos to the legislators in question. Can't wait to get started? Share your favorite farm photos by uploading and posting them on our Facebook wall here:
Jerusha Klemperer
Slow Food USA
[1] Bittman, New York Times Op-Ed, 4/27/11

Industrial animal agriculture is not a pretty picture


A heated debate is under way in Minnesota over legislation that would criminalize the production or possession of videos of animal agricultural facilities. This bill follows on the heels of similar efforts in Florida and Iowa that aim to provide enhanced shielding from scrutiny for only one industry: large-scale animal agriculture.
The large companies pushing this bill claim that farmers need protection from environmental and animal welfare activists, who in turn insist that the general public and the animals need safeguarding from the industry.
The truth is that both farmers and animals need protection - but not from photographers or animal activists. What they need is less political support directed to an industry that increasingly consolidates and integrates food animal production in ways that harm consumers, rural communities, the animals and farmers themselves.
Industrial animal agriculture is not practiced on family farms, although the industry would like to have the public think so. But these are factories - concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that house hundreds of thousands of chickens or thousands of hogs in a single operation.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, from 1950 to 2007 the number of U.S. poultry farms dropped from more than 1.6 million to fewer than 30,000, even though the number of broiler chickens produced grew by more than 1,400 percent over the period. Similarly, between 1992 and 2007, the number of hog farms fell by more than 60 percent while the number of hogs grew by about 10 million animals.
The CAFO model relies on having the maximum number of animals in the smallest amount of space, with the minimum number of employees to provide care. "Production units" (which we used to call animals) are kept in appalling conditions that require constant low-level doses of antibiotics to prevent disease - increasing the threat of drug-resistant illness for all of us. These operations also generate high levels of waste, much of which ends up in our water supply. It should come as no surprise that the industry doesn't want anyone to see these facilities, hence the push to criminalize any effort at filming.
The harm generated by this unsustainable model of animal agriculture also extends to farmers. Today, USDA figures reveal that almost 90 percent of all poultry sold in the United States falls under production contracts, where the chickens themselves are no longer owned by the farmers. Instead, those who actually tend the animals have been relegated to the role of "contract growers" by an industry that dictates how and under what conditions the animals will be fed, raised and slaughtered. This same model is increasingly used for hogs.
As a result, farmers assume enormous risk, including liability for waste disposal and mortgages on immense barns, the design and size of which are dictated by the industry. Marketing power is concentrated in the hands of a small number of large, vertically integrated companies that own, process and sell the animal products.
Problems in the system have grown so widespread that last year the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Justice initiated an unprecedented series of nationwide workshops to hear from farmers who talked about unfair demands, lack of transparency in the contract process, loss of independence - and fear of retaliation from the industry if they spoke out.
The legislation under debate in Minnesota, like its predecessors in other states, will make it harder for the public to know how their food is produced. Contract farmers have no version of whistleblower protection from predatory contract practices and food animals cannot speak for themselves. Undercover videos often provide the only glimpse we have into the unfair and harmful way our meat is produced. Policymakers seeking to criminalize whistleblower-type actions should reassess their priorities.
Karen Steuer is director of government relations for the Pew Environment Group, 901 E Street NW, 10th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20004; website:; email:

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The clock is ticking — Iowa's legislation could pass an important hurdle as soon as next week. If we can raise a big enough stink, we can stop this state-based legislation from spreading nationwide.
But that’s not all. We don't just want to stop Big Ag's attempt to restrict consumers' right to know — we also want to use this as an opportunity to lift up the good, clean and fair farmers who like consumers to come and see exactly how their food is produced.
So join the