The House has taken a step toward making it a crime for people to get a job at a livestock facility just to try to catch animal abuse on video.
The language is part of an agriculture omnibus bill sponsored by Representative Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany). It would create the crime of “agriculture production facility,” for those who gain access to farm or processing facilities “false pretenses” or falsifying an application for employment. It also makes illegal the creation, possession or distribution of videos or other records of activity at those facilities without the owner’s consent.
Guernsey says, “Activist groups, environmental and animal rights-type groups have purposefully infiltrated agriculture production facilities and farming operations simply to create a propaganda against that industry and that business based on what they captured on camera, on video, etcetera, and that’s not fair to the business. That’s not right.”
Some representatives questioned the need to stop activists from such filming. Representative Tracy McCreery (I-St. Louis) asked, “If they don’t have anything to hide, why are a few of these big companies so worried about people seeing how they do business?”
Representative Tom Loehner (R-Koeltztown) tells McCreery the footage taken at livestock facilities can be taken out of context or edited to make it appear an operation is doing something improper. “Whether it be a cow that maybe got hurt and went down and you’ve gotta get it up somehow. You can’t pick it up by hand … You can take a shot of that, somebody picking up a cow with a skid steer and you just block that out for that second and show it, it looks like we’re just killing this thing.”
Representative Susan Carlson (D-St. Louis) thinks farmers and ranchers that take good care of their animals stand to benefit from producers using inhumane treatments being exposed. “For that enterprise that’s a really bad actor and has something that’s worth taking pictures of and that the world really ought to see, our agricultural community would be far better off if those pictures got out.”
Guernsey’s legislation advanced on a roll call vote, 124-29. Another favorable vote will send it to the Senate.
AUDIO: Representative Tracy McCreery inquires Representative Casey Guernsey, 14:52