Constitutional Challenge Made to State’s Attempt to Silence Factory Farm Whistle-Blowers
Contact: Daniel Hauff, DHAPR Group 312.650.9210
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BOISE — A coalition of organizations dedicated to civil liberties, animal protection, food safety, labor rights, and the environment, along with journalists and experts in covert operations, filed a federal lawsuit to overturn Idaho’s newly passed “ag gag” statute, signed into law by Idaho governor C.L. “Butch” Otter on February 28. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of Idaho’s ag gag law (Idaho Code sec. 18-7042), and was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho by national nonprofits Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho (ACLU), and the Center for Food Safety (CFS). Idaho is the seventh state to pass an ag gag law, and the first to do so since 2012.
The U.S. Constitution protects free speech and freedom of the press, including journalistic exposés of industrial animal production. Like other ag gag laws, Idaho’s statute criminalizes whistle-blowing investigations at factory farms, and specifically targets animal advocates who expose illegal and cruel practices. Idaho’s ag gag law makes it illegal for anyone to take photos or videos at a factory farm or slaughterhouse without the owner’s express consent. If convicted under the ag gag law, a whistle-blower would face up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine. By comparison, the maximum jail term for a first-offense conviction of animal cruelty in Idaho is six months. In other words, Idaho more severely punishes those who expose cruelty to animals than those who commit it. Continue reading →
Undercover investigation reveals abusive handling and inhumane slaughter
Shrewsbury, N.J. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture reacted strongly to a complaint filed by The Humane Society of the United States, ordering Catelli Bros. of Shrewsbury to suspend its operations on Friday for egregious inhumane handling of calves in violation of federal law. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service withdrew its federal inspectors, which are required for slaughter operations. The HSUS commended the agency for its enforcement action, and called on USDA to close a loophole in federal policy that allows the slaughter of “downed” veal calves—those too sick or injured to walk on their own—and does not give calves the same protections as adult cattle.
The enforcement action comes after federal officials reviewed a legal complaint and video footage provided by The HSUS showing serious and systematic violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. The investigation included compelling evidence of:
Still-conscious calves struggling while hanging upside down on a conveyor belt;
Calves being shot numerous times before reaching unconsciousness;
A truck driver dragging a downed calf with a chain around his neck;
Plant managers twisting downed calves’ ears and tails when they were too exhausted or weak to stand, lifting the entire weight of some calves by their tails, and telling employees never to do the same when USDA inspectors are watching; and
Employees shocking, hitting, and spraying calves with water.
“Downed calves are still suffering the sort of appalling abuses that we exposed in 2009 at another calf slaughter plant in Vermont,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO for The HSUS. Continue reading →
Of course, I know what a “family farm”can mean as do many of my kind readers. My background is marketing and I know very well how important that little term is for yanking cloth over the public’s eyes. Folks – it means a family owns the company. That’s it. That’s all it means.
A family farm is still a company and animals are still left in the dust (be they so lucky) when it comes to animal welfare.
Ever heard someone promote eating grass-fed beef because it’s natural? It’s true, isn’t it? Uh. Sorta. The way we kill them certainly isn’t. But here’s my question: Are they eating dairy products or drinking cows’ milk? If proponents of eating … Continue reading →
E6 Cattle Co. in Hart, Texas, where workers bashed the heads of calves with pickaxes by direction of owner. After Hauff met with prosecutors, charges were filed against six workers, the foreman, and the owner.
Our case challenges the state’s ag gag law. It’s a clear violation of our rights and makes whistleblowers and watchdogs “criminals” merely for documenting cruelty to animals and using the evidence to expose the abusers. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of myself and the following: ALDF, PETA, the political journal CounterPunch, journalists Will Potter and Jesse Fruhwirth, and professor James McWilliams.
We all rely on undercover investigations in our professional work. In our own way, each of us exposes egregious cruelty to animals and, of course, food safety violations. Continue reading →
The other night I dreamt repeatedly (or ongoing – in various states of consciousness) about Anne Frank and her family. I know why she was on my mind. I have been thinking about her and what it must have been … Continue reading →