"There can be bad actors in every segment of society and we don't defend them. But the vast majority of farmers and ranchers have animal care, animal stewardship, as their top priority," Kelli Ludlum, Director of Congressional Relations for the American Farm Bureau told ABC News in October.
In the Bettencourt case, Pete said the first day on the job he saw another employee dragging a cow on its side inside a milking barn, in full view of a manager who was present. The incident was recorded with a hidden camera and was one of several acts of animal cruelty that he documented during his employment. He said when he felt he had enough proof of animal cruelty, Mercy for Animals turned the footage over to local law enforcement. Criminal charges were brought against three employees; one of those pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty.
Owners Luis and Sharon Bettencourt told ABC News that as soon as they found out about the abuse, they fired the employees responsible. They question why Pete, working as their employee, didn't tell them directly what he had witnessed.
"We would have taken care of it," Luis Bettencourt said.
Several of the new proposed bills have included a mandatory rule to inform law enforcement immediately after abuse is witnessed, which Pete said would make building a solid case difficult.
In light of the new laws and proposed legislation, Pete said he won't do anything illegal, but will work closely with Mercy for Animals' legal teams to find a way to get cameras inside farms to document abuse.
"We love busting animal abusers. If they want to take away our rights, having based my entire career on this one thing, there's no way I will sit by as this happens," he said.