“Weeks after the HSUS released a shocking cruelty expose in Kentucky, the meat industry is trying to blow the whistle on the whistle-blower,” Shapiro said.
Kentucky is the sixth state in 2014 to consider some form of regulation to prevent activists from going undercover inside farm facilities, alongside Arizona, New Hampshire, Indiana, Tennessee and Idaho. Idaho passed its bill in February, criminalizing unauthorized recording inside agricultural facilities.
“This is not the first time we have seen corporate agricultural interests try to slip an ag-gag provision into a bill at the eleventh hour, but it is especially disappointing that it was added to legislation designed to improve the welfare of animals in Kentucky,” said Daisy Freund, senior manager of Farm Animal Welfare for the ASPCA.
The Kentucky Farm Bureau supported the added provision, and said the “well-being of animals is and always will be of the utmost importance to Kentucky’s farmers.”
“The proper care of livestock and poultry goes hand-in-hand with a farmer’s livelihood, and none of our members condone animal cruelty of any form,” Kentucky Farm Bureau spokesperson Dan Smaldone said. “House Bill 222, and Kentucky Farm Bureau’s support of it, is aimed at preventing individuals from seeking employment on a farm through misrepresentation, and does not prevent law enforcement or governmental authorities from investigating accusations of animal cruelty. Kentucky has established Livestock Care Standards that provide guidelines for proper care of the Commonwealth’s farm animals, and we only support and encourage all farmers in this state to adhere to those standards at all times.”
The Kentucky bill is currently awaiting its third reading on the Senate floor, and faces several legislative hurdles before it can be approved in both houses.
Rep. Jenkins said she’d rather not see the bill be passed at all, the way it’s currently written.
“It was noncontroversial. I don’t think many people were ever against it. To take a simple bill and make it something much more complicated, and maybe even unconstitutional, is certainly disturbing,” she said. “I would hope it just dies.”