In this file:
· Animal rights protesters take their case to court
· Can “ag-gag” prevent secretly filming at livestock facilities?
Animal rights protesters take their case to court
Julie Johnson, The Press Democrat
via Argus Courier - February 5, 2019
About two dozen animal welfare activists in blue T-shirts filled a Sonoma County courtroom Monday and spilled out into the hallway to show support for members of their group arrested last year on suspicion of trespassing onto a Petaluma- area poultry farm and taking chickens away.
Members of the animal rights group, Direct Action Everywhere, have staged repeated protests at Sonoma County farms where chickens and eggs are raised for food. The demonstrations, which started last year, have resulted in dozens of arrests after some activists went onto private property to, in their view, rescue chickens that appeared to be in distress.
The group’s animal welfare mission is butting up against the private property rights of farmers, who say their livelihoods are being unfairly targeted by a group opposed to raising animals for food.
Local ranchers said they are feeling threatened by the tactics of an activist group willing to trespass onto private property and take animals while risking the spread of disease.
With 21 activists facing a variety of felony and misdemeanor charges, Direct Action Everywhere’s public demonstrations have increasingly spread into the hallways of Sonoma County’s courthouse in Santa Rosa.
“Our mission is to show the public what’s happening behind these closed doors and help people make decisions,” said Wayne Hsiung, 37, a tax attorney from Berkeley and a leader within the group’s Bay Area chapter. “Our democracy can’t live without transparency. ... When we expose cruelty in factory farms and slaughterhouses, we do that with the public interest at heart.”
On Monday, activists Jon Frohnmayer, 34, and Rachel Ziegler, 26, both of Berkeley, pleaded not guilty in Sonoma County Superior Court to a total of 12 crimes, including four counts of second-degree commercial burglary and one of theft of domestic fowl. Convictions could bring a maximum sentence of seven years in jail or, at minimum, probation, according to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office.
Their preliminary hearing will take place May 23 and 24, coming on the heels of another preliminary hearing for other protesters, including Hsiung, scheduled to start May 3.
After Monday’s appearance, members of the group crowded into the front lobby of the District Attorney’s Office, where they tried to get an appointment with top prosecutor Jill Ravitch.
An office representative turned the group away after accepting a letter for Ravitch imploring her office to meet with them and hear their concerns about animal conditions...
Can “ag-gag” prevent secretly filming at livestock facilities?
By Ellen Essman, Sr. Research Associate, Ohio State University Agricultural & Resource Law Program
via Ohio's Country Journal - February 5, 2019
Nationwide, it seems as though “ag-gag” laws are being challenged and overturned left and right. “Ag-gag” is the term for laws that prevent undercover journalists, investigators, animal rights advocates, and other whistleblowers from secretly filming or recording at livestock facilities. “Ag-gag” also describes laws which make it illegal for undercover persons to use deception to obtain employment at livestock facilities. Many times, the laws were actually passed in response to under-cover investigations which illuminated conditions for animals raised at large industrial farms. Some of the videos and reports produced were questionable in nature — they either set-up the employees and the farms, or they were released without a broader context of farm operations. The laws were meant to protect the livestock industry from reporting that might be critical of their operations — obtained through deception and without context, or otherwise.
Here in Ohio, we do not have an ag-gag law; instead we have the Ohio Livestock Care Standards, which are rules for the care of livestock in the state. The rules are made by the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, which is made up of farmers, food safety experts, farmers’ organizations, veterinarians, the dean of the agriculture department from an Ohio college or university, consumers, and county humane society representatives. There are standards for the care of different species of livestock, as well as standards for euthanizing livestock, feeding and watering livestock, transporting livestock, etc. Violating the standards could lead to civil penalties. Part of the thinking behind the Livestock Care Standards was that by bringing together farmers, veterinarians, and animal welfare representatives, among others, all sides would be represented, and therefore ag-gag laws and deceptive reporting could be avoided. The laws regarding the Ohio Livestock Care Standards can be found here, and the regulations here.
Kansas law challenged ...
Iowa law overturned ...
Future not looking good for ag-gag laws ...
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