On Thursday, April 28, Senator Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont) moved to strike her name as a co-author of S.F. 1118, the controversial "ag-gag" bill.
The New York Times's Mark Bittman introduced the phrase to the general public in a column and blog post opposing the law it described:
Minnesota’s “ag-gag” law — isn’t that a great name? — would seek to punish not only photographers and videographers but those who distribute their work...
Rosen represents all of Martin County and parts of Blue Earth, Waseca and Watonwan counties--a part of the state where livestock agriculture is very important. Nonetheless, Southern Minnesota newspaper editorial boards derided the proposed legislation, including the uber-conservative Fairmont Sentinel.
Bluestem noted the rejection in Not getting behind it: ag country daily newspapers reject anti-whistleblowing bill:
It's looking like the Agri-Growth Council's bill to criminalize videotaping and undercover operations at ag facilities has about as much following as a manure spreader in high August.
If the Fairmont Sentinel isn't the most politically conservative daily newspaper in the state, it's darned close. The editors reject the bill on the grounds that it's not going to stop animal rights activists--and that good farmers have nothing to fear from a free press:
Any activist worth his or her salt is going to ignore it. Their goal is to expose abuse. Some possible time in jail is a small price to pay for these folks. And those who actually produce videos of bad behavior on farms or in processing plants are going to generate a lot of public sympathy, including among juries and judges. After all, abusing animals is a serious crime in itself. If someone exposes it, their "offense" amounts to little more than trespassing or petty fraud. The animal abuse is far worse.
Finally, no reputable farm or business that treats its animals well has to worry about any of this. And, again, that is true for the vast majority.
Since Rosen has a full plate as senate author of the Vikings stadium bill, it's likely that the drumroll of scorn for SF1118 in the local media (and constituent contacts generated from it) led her to bail on Magnus, Hamilton and the Agri-Growth Council.
And with Daryn McBeth as Agri-Growth president and spokester, who can blame her?
Photo: State Senator Julie Rosen.