The agribusiness industry claims innocently that it’s trying to stop animal cruelty with this bill. But the real goal is to stop prosecutions of animal cruelty by criminalizing whistleblowing on factory farms.
The bill makes it a crime to videotape animal cruelty or abuse and then fail to turn in the evidence to authorities within 48 hours. That's to stop animal rights activists from accumulating enough documentation to prove that animal cruelty is routine at some factory farms and slaughterhouses. Under this bill, farmers can claim the abuse is a one-time occurrence and go on their merry way.
To their credit, a couple of Republicans tried to shame their colleagues into voting against this bill, which came from that corporate front, the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Murfreesboro Sen. Bill Ketron went so far as to point out that Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy were cruel to animals when they were little. Senate GOP leader Mark Norris said the bill’s advocates don’t really give a rat’s ass about stopping animal cruelty.
Of the state Farm Bureau, Norris said, “They support the bill but they should be ashamed for doing so. If you’re truly concerned about animal abuse, deal with the root cause not what people do after they see it. The implication of this bill is that it’s OK to abuse animals. It’s all right.”
The bill is soon to be up for debate in the House Calendar and Rules Committee, where some Republicans are plotting to try to stop it from advancing to the House floor.
Update: The bill cleared the Calendar Committee and it's on the House floor tomorrow.