This story emanates from Utah. I live in Iowa. So, why does it matter to me?
It relates to Confined Animal Feeding Operations, of which we likely have more of than most other areas of the planet. Also known simply as CAFO's, the PAC's that represent Industrial Livestock Operations across the nation have ramped up efforts recently to pass what has come to be called "Ag Gag" Legislation.
Videos and Articles showing the abuses possible in CAFO Environments are endemic on YouTube, Vimeo and elsewhere. Whistle-blower Alternative Media and a handful of MSM Media types have secretly videoed such abuses, posting then on the web along with scathing articles about those responsible.
I guess those folks don't like having their "dirty laundry" hung in public view.
'Food Safety News' [See Complete Text: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/03/five-states-now-have-ag-gag-laws-on-the-books/#.Ue7E3Y2sh8E]summarized it all: "
Farm states have long made it a crime to mess with someone’s animals. At least 28 states have laws on the books declaring it illegal to exercise control over animals or their facilities without permission, according to the Michigan State University College of Law’s Animal Legal & Historical Center, which tracks animal law.
In the last five years, animal welfare groups have sent members into large-scale farms as employees, who then videotaped incidents of animal cruelty and mistreatment.
States adopting ag-gag laws simply want to “silence whistleblowers,” according to Farm Forward, an Oregon-based group opposed to factory farms.
The new Iowa and Utah laws are specifically written to block undercover whistleblowers.The Iowa law, for example, addresses obtaining employment under false pretenses as one element of a crime that could put the violator in jail for up to two years.
And the current crop of new ag-gag laws may not be over. So far, in 2012, the animal agriculture lobby has two wins, three losses going with five contests still outstanding.
Iowa and Utah enacted new laws, while ag-gag bills were killed in Florida, Illinois and Indiana. Ag-gag bills remain pending in Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York and Tennessee.
Amanda Hitt, director of the Government Accountability Project's Food Integrity Campaign, explains why these laws are so dangerous:
"This is a bigger, broader issue." She likened activist videos to airplane black-box recorders—evidence for investigators to deconstruct and find wrongdoing. Ag gag laws, she said, don't just interfere with workers blowing the whistle on animal abuse. "You are also stopping environmental whistleblowing; you are also stopping workers' rights whistleblowing." In short, "you have given power to the industry to completely self-regulate." That should "scare the pants off" consumers concerned about where their food comes from. "It's the consumer's right to know, but also the employee's right to tell. You gotta have both."