Rod Hamilton's ag-gag bill died a much-mocked death in 2011, but a new round of introductions of the anti-whistleblower bill is generating headlines like Flies, Maggots, Rats, and Lots of Poop: What Big Ag Doesn't Want You To See in Mother Jones and Bills Pushed By State Legislators Would Make Farm Animal Abuse Investigations More Difficult in HuffPost.
Hamilton hasn't come back for seconds, but the editorial board of the Winona Daily News is taking no chances.
In Our View: No going back to 'The Jungle', editor Brian Voerding writes:
A number of bills are moving this spring through statehouses across the country that would, in varying ways, make it a crime to secretly document animal abuse and food-safety concerns at farms.
This kind of legislation isn't new to our area. Minnesota lawmakers have considered it occasionally in recent years, and Iowa last year passed a law that makes it a gross misdemeanor to sneak into a farm and record video of animal abuse.
These laws limit the public's right to know where their food comes from, and -- yes -- they are ultimately bad for business. . . .
Let's be clear: We don't condone strident work produced with little context. Reasonable things happen on farms every day that would scare a sheltered little city kid. The vast majority of farms in our area and across the country are owned and run by reasonable people who would be just as horrified as the rest of us at the abuse that's been documented. Good investigative work is produced by somebody who takes the time to gain a deep understanding of an industry and documents violations, not incidents worthy only of shock value, to advance the common good. . . .
And the food industry, starting with the farmer and ending with the grocery store that sells the product, should welcome any effort toward transparency that builds trust among consumers. Transparency builds loyalty, which grows the bottom line.
The argument isn't new--and let's hope legislators remember the lesson from the last time this got thrown in the hopper.
Photo: Happy cattle and farm family pose for the camera.
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