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First Ag-Gag Arrest

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  • First Ag-Gag Arrest

    http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog...my-meyer/6948/

    by Will Potter on April 29, 2013

    in Terrorism Legislation

    HSUS Hallmark investigation.jpg

    In a different case, video footage of downer cows moved by heavy machinery led to the largest meat recall in history.

    UPDATE: Just 24 hours after I broke this story here, and following a massive amount of media coverage, prosecutors dropped all charges!

    Amy Meyer wanted to see the slaughterhouse for herself. She had heard that anyone passing by could view the animals, so she drove to Dale Smith Meatpacking Company in Draper City, Utah, and from the side of the road she could see through the barbed-wire fence. Piles of horns littered the property. Cows struggled with workers who tried to lead them into a building. And one scene in particular made her stop.

    “A live cow who appeared to be sick or injured being carried away from the building in a tractor,” Meyer told me, “as though she were nothing more than rubble.”

    As she witnessed this, Meyer did what most of us would in the age of smart phones and YouTube: she recorded.

    When the slaughterhouse manager came outside and told her to stop, she replied that she was on the public easement and had the right to film. When police arrived, she said told them the same thing. According to the police report, the manager said she was trespassing and crossed over the barbed-wire fence, but the officer noted “there was no damage to the fence in my observation.”
    Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Vermont are all considering similar bills right now.

    Meyer was allowed to leave. She later found out she was being prosecuted under the state’s new “ag-gag” law.
    This is the first prosecution in the country under one of these laws, which are designed to silence undercover investigators who expose animal welfare abuses on factory farms. The legislation is a direct response to a series of shocking investigations by groups like the Humane Society, Mercy for Animals, and Compassion Over Killing that have led to plant closures, public outrage, and criminal charges against workers.

    Even the most sweeping ag-gag bills, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council model legislation, don’t explicitly target filming from a roadside. But Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Vermont are all considering bills similar to the Utah law right now.

    Pennsylvania’s bill criminalizes anyone who “records an image of, or sound from, the agricultural operation” or who “uploads, downloads, transfers or otherwise sends” the footage using the Internet.
    dale-smith-screenshot

    Images of the plant and cows going to slaughter are available at the Dale Smith website.

    North Carolina’s bill doesn’t specifically mention factory farms or slaughterhouses: it is called the “Commerce Protection Act,” and it includes investigations of any industry. It was introduced on the same day a fifth employee of Butterball pleaded guilty to animal cruelty after an undercover investigation showed workers beating turkeys.

    Tennessee’s bill has already passed and is awaiting signature from the governor. In response to calls for a veto from the Humane Society and Carrie Underwood, one state representative compared undercover investigations to rape and sex-trafficking.

    California’s ag-gag bill recently failed, after a massive public backlash. One newspaper editorial said “the cattlemen have committed the worst PR gaffe since New Coke.” The bill was a response to an undercover investigation by the Humane Society that showed “downer” cows, too sick to move, being pushed by tractors (much like what Amy Meyer recorded in Utah). It led to the largest meat recall in U.S. history.

    The public backlash against these bills, including recent editorials by the New York Times and Washington Post, has relied on hypothetical examples of how they could be used. The AFL-CIO and Teamsters say they could put workers at risk. The ASPCA says they could shut down lawful investigations by animal protection groups. The National Press Photographers Association says they could wrap up journalists.

    The first ag-gag prosecution should be a warning that these aren’t hypothetical concerns. These bills have one purpose: keep consumers in the dark. Rather than respond to video footage of animal cruelty with across-the-board reforms, the industry is trying to turn off the cameras.
    “These aren’t hypothetical concerns… the industry is trying to turn off the cameras.”

    It’s telling that the owner of the slaughterhouse Amy Meyer filmed happens to be Darrell H. Smith, the town mayor. (Mayor Smith, the meatpacking company, and the local prosecutor did not return phone calls for comment). If that’s shocking to you, it shouldn’t be. In Iowa, for example, the nation’s first ag-gag law was sponsored by Rep. Annette Sweeney, who is the former director of the Iowa Angus Association.

    In Utah, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Mathis, called undercover investigators “animal rights terrorists” and said video recordings of animal abuse are “propaganda.” In his opening remarks at a legislative hearing on the ag-gag bill, Mathis said: “It’s fun to see my good ag friends in this committee… all my good friends are here.” Ag-gag supporters couldn’t be any more transparent in their financial motivations for censorship.

    It was prescient that, as the Utah bill was being considered, the Utah Sentencing Commission warned that it could be used against anyone who merely takes a photograph of a farm or slaughterhouse. At the time, Rep. Greg Hughes of Draper replied: “Who would really pursue that in terms of prosecution?” Now, the first ag-gag prosecution is for precisely that, in his own district.

    Most people won’t ever find themselves in the position of Amy Meyer, of course. Few of us actively seek out information about how our food is produced. (Do you know the location of a factory farm, if you wanted to?) The animal products just arrive at the supermarket, without investigation or thought.
    “Who would really pursue that in terms of prosecution?”

    With ag-gag bills, the industry is trying to keep it that way. These bills are not just about animal activists from national organizations going undercover. They are about people like Amy Meyer, who have seen how animals are being treated, and who want you to see what they have seen.

    Most importantly, ag-gag bills are about you — the millions of Americans who might see this footage, be sickened by it, and demand a change.

    Will Potter is the author of Green Is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege (City Lights, 2011).
    The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.
    H. Cate

  • #2
    "Piles of horns littered the property. Cows struggled with workers who tried to lead them into a building. "

    “A live cow who appeared to be sick or injured being carried away from the building in a tractor,”

    Piles of horns? Where did the horns come from? Cattle are usually dehorned about the time the are weaned, or as yearlings. I am highly skeptical about seeing "piles of horns" at a slaughter house.

    I would guess that about 99% of steers at market do not lead. They are not halter broke. Of course they would struggle to be lead, if that's what the workers are actually doing - which again, I doubt. 1500# steers are a PITA to work with. They can be pushy and dangerous due to their sheer size and low brain cell count. Believe me - I do it every day. By the time they head down the road, I'm ready to send them.

    If for some reason - we don't know the reason, but things happen when you work with hooved animals - a cow or steer were to go down, how would *you* move them? You now have a 1500# animal in a pen with other 1500#+ animals that can run over it. You have to move it, in order to protect it. You need to get it somewhere that it can recover. That is the law. I know I can't move an animal that size on my own. So we have slings and other contraptions put together so we can use large load-moving machinery. But this lady would just say that I was using a tractor to move an injured cow. Duh. Of course I am.

    This lady that was taking the video that "witnessed" these things going on, doesn't have a clue about working with large livestock, and neither does the author. It is because of uneducated people like this, trying to spread their story, that so much of the public is misinformed about animal agriculture.

    I do think that this meat business needs to be protected somewhat from people just like this. They will talk like these are horrible things going on, when in actuality, things may not be as bad as it seems...

    Comment


    • #3
      I expect you would find more about that lady if you looked and she is an animal rights extremist, just by the way the story is told.
      She knew exactly what she was doing, the way she was saying "she was on public domain access road and so she could film whatever she wanted".

      If she really was not aware of all that animal rights extremists learn in their seminars, I expect she would not have know such.

      Did abuse happen or not?
      That is a whole different question of why she was there and filming that, that is the question here.

      What was she going to do with that information, those videos?

      Those "ag gag" laws would have demanded she call the police and turn that over to them.
      Somehow I doubt that is what she had in mind.
      I don't think she was a bystander appalled by any supposed abuse, but someone out looking for a story for certain agendas.
      THAT is what "ag gag" laws are trying to regulate, so the abusive way so many have gone about that is stopped, like the circus HSUS boondoggle, where they lost after finally being caught paying someone to lie about abuses.

      I expect there is more to the story than was reported there.

      Comment


      • #4
        You know, regardless of whether she was an extremist or not, the letter of the law would actually criminalize someone standing on a hilltop taking a picture of a pastoral farming valley below.

        These laws are unconstitutional, in my un-lawyerly opinion, and will probably have to go to the SC.
        www.TerriMiller.com
        Photos & Commissioned Paintings

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by tm View Post
          You know, regardless of whether she was an extremist or not, the letter of the law would actually criminalize someone standing on a hilltop taking a picture of a pastoral farming valley below.

          These laws are unconstitutional, in my un-lawyerly opinion, and will probably have to go to the SC.
          Yes, that they may do, they are other laws that could have been used to accomplish what this one wants, without becoming controversial as this one has.

          This law is using a shotgun to kill that annoying mosquito in your kitchen.

          Sigh, just more free PR for animal rights extremist groups, playing the martyr while getting rich beyond measure.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Ya know I think I actually agree with you on this one - the shotgun approach.


            Originally posted by Bluey View Post
            Yes, that they may do, they are other laws that could have been used to accomplish what this one wants, without becoming controversial as this one has.

            This law is using a shotgun to kill that annoying mosquito in your kitchen.

            Sigh, just more free PR for animal rights extremist groups, playing the martyr while getting rich beyond measure.
            The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.
            H. Cate

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by tm View Post
              You know, regardless of whether she was an extremist or not, the letter of the law would actually criminalize someone standing on a hilltop taking a picture of a pastoral farming valley below.
              As I understand it (which is from a USDA source, but I admittedly haven't read it with my own eyes) that is not going to be prosecuted -- the person taking the photo/video/etc has to have malicious intent to take it to the public and not the authorities.
              To be loved by a horse should fill us with awe, for we hath not deserved it.

              Comment


              • #8
                OK, I'll admit to being behind the curve (this is the first Ag-Gag thread I've opened, because it's not already 35 pages long ), but I don't get how these laws don't violate the First Amendment?

                I know police officers can stop people filming when they're in the process of making an arrest. We had that case in SC, and they justified it on the grounds that LEOs need to be able to control the environment for everyone's safety.

                But if the person is on public property, and isn't inciting a crowd, I don't get it.
                I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

                Comment


                • #9
                  Let's face it, in the US only certain people have rights.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' View Post
                    OK, I'll admit to being behind the curve (this is the first Ag-Gag thread I've opened, because it's not already 35 pages long ), but I don't get how these laws don't violate the First Amendment?

                    I know police officers can stop people filming when they're in the process of making an arrest. We had that case in SC, and they justified it on the grounds that LEOs need to be able to control the environment for everyone's safety.

                    But if the person is on public property, and isn't inciting a crowd, I don't get it.
                    well, there are a couple of issues....
                    it's not an AG 'gag' law when it's not Ag specific...


                    and it's HSUS crying foul because one of their operatives has been dinged.

                    There are issues, ongoing ones, of photographers/videographers being harassed by police.

                    So, bar any neutral evidence, I would hate to venture a guess. The SH manager claims trespass....

                    However, the original 'gag law' was brought forth in Tennessee, requiring people who take pictures and videos to turn the evidence of animal abuse in withing 24 or 48 hours, I forgot which, effectively curbing a lot of the activities of PETA and HSUS who like to sit on stuff and sell it to the highest bidder at the most opportune time.

                    If I feel like I care, I will try to see if I can find the law hey are crying about.
                    Until then the term makes me, well, gag....polemic at it's finest.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      This is the Utah code:

                      76-6-112. Agricultural operation interference -- Penalties.

                      (1) As used in this section, "agricultural operation" means private property used for the production of livestock, poultry, livestock products, or poultry products.

                      (2) A person is guilty of agricultural operation interference if the person:

                      (a) without consent from the owner of the agricultural operation, or the owner's agent, knowingly or intentionally records an image of, or sound from, the agricultural operation by leaving a recording device on the agricultural operation;

                      (b) obtains access to an agricultural operation under false pretenses;

                      (c) (i) applies for employment at an agricultural operation with the intent to record an image of, or sound from, the agricultural operation;

                      (ii) knows, at the time that the person accepts employment at the agricultural operation, that the owner of the agricultural operation prohibits the employee from recording an image of, or sound from, the agricultural operation; and

                      (iii) while employed at, and while present on, the agricultural operation, records an image of, or sound from, the agricultural operation; or

                      (d) without consent from the owner of the operation or the owner's agent, knowingly or intentionally records an image of, or sound from, an agricultural operation while the person is committing criminal trespass, as described in Section 76-6-206, on the agricultural operation.

                      (3) A person who commits agricultural operation interference described in Subsection (2)(a) is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

                      (4) A person who commits agricultural operation interference described in Subsection (2)(b), (c), or (d) is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.

                      Enacted by Chapter 213, 2012 General Session
                      Interesting. It doesn't sound like it was applicable in this instance at all, because she didn't leave a recording device on the agricultural operation (a), nor did she obtain access to the agricultural operation under false pretenses (b) or apply for employment with the intent to record (c).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SummerRose View Post
                        This is the Utah code:



                        Interesting. It doesn't sound like it was applicable in this instance at all, because she didn't leave a recording device on the agricultural operation (a), nor did she obtain access to the agricultural operation under false pretenses (b) or apply for employment with the intent to record (c).
                        They insisted she was trespassing.
                        If they can prove that, that would have changed the picture.

                        There are many feedlots around here, the closest 9 miles away right on the expressway and people stop and take pictures and videos of them and the mill and the cowboys all the time and no one cares.
                        When they find a dead animal, they move them to where they are picked up with the big tractor, in the bucket, or with a chain hanging from the bucket.
                        Maybe that is what they were doing?

                        I still think there is more to this story.
                        They caught her sneaking and snooping around and called the police on her.
                        She then invented the smug "I just wanted to look at the place" and is using the "bad ag gag" law to play the innocent martyr.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It depends on if the cow was alive or dead. Downer cows are not allowed to be slaughtered for food because there is a reasonable possibility that they may be diseased. But many slaughter houses will do anything to get that cow into the SH (thus the videos of the cows being shoved across the ground with tractors or dragged around by tractors). If they can somehow get that cow alive and more or less into the SH on at least one foot they feel they can slaughter it. If the animal was dead then there is not a problem moving it with whatever is necessary but it would be nice if the cow was put down FIRST. It isn't like they don't have the tools...

                          Anyone who EATS meat of any kind should be very very alarmed at these ag gag bills because they don't JUST end up showing cruelty, they often show some very unsanitary conditions. And these bills are designed specifically to cover it up. Is that not alarming to everyone who either eats animals or cares for animals? It sure is to me. And if the authorities were more (or at all) responsive to these complaints then whistle blowers wouldn't HAVE to compile months of evidence (to show it isn't a one of or a disgruntled employee or an accident or...)
                          Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

                          Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You left out the rara who was hired in before the rara with the camera. Remember, 93% of rara videos are contrived and record abuses by other rara's planted in the farm. That is why they don't want to have to provide the video within 24 hours. They prefer to wait for months or years as their undercover operatives quit and leave the area. That is why there are so few prosecutions. The ag-gag bills will bring 'true' cases of abuse to light immediately, so that any 'true' abusers can be prosecuted. Fast, clean, but not good for all those late night fund raising pleas.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Well, folks, as it happens, this one is in my neighborhood, and I drive by that plant pretty much every day. 99% of the planet is unaware that it's a slaughterhouse despite the very clear signage. It is a small LOCAL slaughterhouse. I've bought beef there before (a good while back, it wasn't great and I've since mostly bought grass finished from down state).

                              The charges against Amy Meyer were indeed dropped, she presented some footage verifying she was on public property though the plant owners called the cops when she and perhaps others were on her property, according to the article in today's paper.

                              Based on what I see every day driving by, her allegations of cruelty are bogus. The cows in the lots are within view of I-15, for the world to see. I have not in 18 years seen a downer in there, which is not to say it hasn't happened in those 18 years, but for god's sake people, it's out in the open, go drive by and judge for yourselves.

                              But her allegations of abuse based on 'piles of horns' and 'flesh spewing out of the building.' Really? Truly? Do any of you believe such a description?

                              I have no idea who Amy is, but based on the foregoing she is hardly qualified to ascertain whether animal cruelty is happening. Mind you, I'd be fine with video cameras mounted in all slaughterhouses. But for goodness' sakes, vegans with an agenda hardly pass the straight face test for objectivity, let alone knowledge of proper treatment of livestock.

                              By the way, I am happy to report that Utah is a state where people who vandalize McDonald's and give the mink their freedom (resulting in their certain death) are thrown in jail. Folks here just don't put up with that nonsense. Which is not to say they tolerate animal cruelty.

                              Edited to add: It just now occurs to me that people think that cows napping in the sun might be 'downers.' Indeed the cattle in those lots are pretty darned relaxed and do lie down to rest. Which makes me wonder how many allegations of 'downers' have any basis in fact.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                This is all very scary...

                                I just wrote a long post and zapped it by mistake! so I'll just leave it that I find this scary. There is so much documented unsanitary, illegal and cruel activites in the Ag business...it is scary to me that the person trying to make the world a safer place be subjected to punishment and not the perpetrator! What an upside down world this is becoming!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Beverley -
                                  Thanks for sharing your point of view as a local.

                                  There have been appalling situations of abuse, which I am glad were documented. However, the motives of organizations that have proof of abuse -- yet delay releasing it should be questioned. If you are fighting abuse, how can you justify letting days go by knowing animals are suffering?

                                  People are nuts, though. We have a neighbor who thought that letting our heritage turkeys free range in our pasture instead of penning them was somehow neglectful as they often chose to stay out in the rain and roost on the roof rather than coming inside the barn. They WOULD spend the hottest part of the day in the barn under the fans, though . They were protected by livestock guardian dogs and having the best quality of life a turkey could hope for. Same neighbor eats meat, but would be horrified at the idea of us humanely slaughtering a turkey here. BTW, we live on a 10 acre FARM.

                                  I DO think that the big producers and plants ought to have video surveillance, for self policing and for USDA monitoring. But, we have reached a point where people think food comes from the store. So, even the most humane slaughter is not palatable for most people, which means no plant would want video footage released to the public. God forbid that the masses find out that meat comes from animals and vegetables grow in dirt.
                                  Disclaimer: Just a beginner who knows nothing about nothing

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Oh, it gets ever crazier out there, now using religion for their propaganda:

                                    http://beefmagazine.com/blog/it-fair...-rights-debate

                                    Sure, there are abuse cases that are true and need to be stopped and the abusers prosecuted, but really, to go onto a witch hunt?
                                    Do you go go church and look in the back to be sure your priest is not abusing children, because that abuse is on the news all day long?

                                    Those of us that raise and care for animals have already decided, after years of questions, that yes, it is ok to do so, there is nothing to be ashamed to raise and care for animals, all and any of them, even our horses and what we do with them.

                                    Those animal rights extremist zealots can have a cow about it, but just as any abuse is already illegal and abusers should and are hung, those that abuse other laws to eliminate our rights to use animals on some crazy fanatic quasi-religion of animal rights need to be stopped.

                                    Any abuse, if it is abusing animals, or abusing those that have animals, both are wrong.

                                    No one is stopping anyone from documenting true abuse, just from lying about others abusing animals.
                                    If "ag gag" laws stop that abuse, why is that wrong?

                                    Seems that the charges were dropped after all, other than maybe trespassing?

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Thanks for the post.
                                      The guy that wrote the article, I thought was pretty free with the description of what was seen.
                                      I wondered if he actually even saw it firsthand.


                                      Originally posted by Beverley View Post
                                      Well, folks, as it happens, this one is in my neighborhood, and I drive by that plant pretty much every day. 99% of the planet is unaware that it's a slaughterhouse despite the very clear signage. It is a small LOCAL slaughterhouse. I've bought beef there before (a good while back, it wasn't great and I've since mostly bought grass finished from down state).

                                      The charges against Amy Meyer were indeed dropped, she presented some footage verifying she was on public property though the plant owners called the cops when she and perhaps others were on her property, according to the article in today's paper.

                                      Based on what I see every day driving by, her allegations of cruelty are bogus. The cows in the lots are within view of I-15, for the world to see. I have not in 18 years seen a downer in there, which is not to say it hasn't happened in those 18 years, but for god's sake people, it's out in the open, go drive by and judge for yourselves.

                                      But her allegations of abuse based on 'piles of horns' and 'flesh spewing out of the building.' Really? Truly? Do any of you believe such a description?

                                      I have no idea who Amy is, but based on the foregoing she is hardly qualified to ascertain whether animal cruelty is happening. Mind you, I'd be fine with video cameras mounted in all slaughterhouses. But for goodness' sakes, vegans with an agenda hardly pass the straight face test for objectivity, let alone knowledge of proper treatment of livestock.

                                      By the way, I am happy to report that Utah is a state where people who vandalize McDonald's and give the mink their freedom (resulting in their certain death) are thrown in jail. Folks here just don't put up with that nonsense. Which is not to say they tolerate animal cruelty.

                                      Edited to add: It just now occurs to me that people think that cows napping in the sun might be 'downers.' Indeed the cattle in those lots are pretty darned relaxed and do lie down to rest. Which makes me wonder how many allegations of 'downers' have any basis in fact.
                                      The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.
                                      H. Cate

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                                      • #20
                                        There will be more such as this case and it is going to expose these "photo takers" for what and who they are.

                                        Vegans have also been known to try and support their "cause" to force others to give up meat.
                                        The Elephant in the room

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