Florida ‘Ag-Gag’ Bill Reaching Senate Floor

A new bill (SB 1184), known as the “Ag-Gag” Bill by its opponents, has passed onto the floor of the Florida Senate for discussion resuming Monday. The bill would make it a first degree misdemeanor to produce unauthorized videos or photographs on the grounds of an agriculture facility. Failing to go to a vote in 2011, the 2012 bill has been revamped to include specifics, such as standards that will regulate commercial feed, that the original lacked.

The agriculture industry is under a great deal of pressure to produce a mass amount of quality food at very little cost to the consumer. The bill would allow farm owners to tighten their security and maintain property privacy without having to raise production costs by added security measures. Leading the opposition to the bill is a radical animal rights group called the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). According to Humanewatch.org, HSUS is the wealthiest animal rights group in the country, having nothing to do with local humane societies or rescue animals.

Legislation supported by HSUS brings higher cost of production of protein products to fulfill their goal of a vegan society. Regulations from these bills bring unwanted costs to farmers such as passing Proposition 2 in California that required more room for each confined animal. This law will take effect in 2015 but it will cause increases in California’s egg production costs with upgrades costing more than $3.2 million, which will be passed onto the consumer, according to The Wall Street Journal. Without the controversial media from a small percentage of the agriculture industry, HSUS will have weakened ability to push their vegan agenda.

There have been outcries the bill will infringe on the basic freedoms of speech and press by not allowing unauthorized footage of farms to be released without prosecution. That is not the case, according to the Department of Homeland Security, which recently released a document urging the agriculture industry to tighten security of their facilities considering them critical infrastructure. Allowing individuals to take media of an area deemed as critical infrastructure is a national security risk. Media used without permission breaks down the protection essential to the security of America’s food sources by showing areas of secure critical infrastructures.

As the bill comes onto the floor for discussions on Monday, many will be wondering how it will affect legislation with similar bills being reintroduced in New York, Minnesota and Iowa this year. Nothing in the bill prohibits an animal control officer coming on to the grounds of a farm to investigate reports of animal abuse. Agriculture industries have ethical standards they abide by and very few stray from those standards, which is why the unauthorized media is unnecessary. This will allow farmers to maintain the standards of providing quality food and low prices, while still maintaining the basic freedoms of having secured property.

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