No wonder State Rep. Andy "The Ag Gagger" Holt wants to make it harder for people to gather evidence of rule-breaking at Tennessee farms. In The City Paper, Andrea Zelinski reports that Holt's own record of compliance as a farmer gives off a whiff of the barnyard:
In February 2011, a water compliance inspection report also found: annual manure nutrient analysis was not being conducted according to agency rules; annual reports were not being submitted to the Division of Water Pollution Control; livestock were grazing in the production area and contaminating storm water; mortality management practices used didn’t comply with the nutrient management plan; ground conditions were not properly documented during weekly storm water inspections nor had subsequent repairs or corrective actions been accomplished; a written report about a discharge that took place in February was incomplete and nine days late; and a site-specific nutrient management plan needed to be rewritten. The department then gave him a list of tasks to complete by June 1, 2011, to earn a permit.
About a year later, he still lacked a permit. TDEC received an anonymous complaint in March 2012 from a local resident that someone had sprayed animal waste on trees on her property, according to agency officials who found the accusation during a search related to Holt’s address. The Department of Agriculture and TDEC investigated the complaint almost three weeks later and found no direct evidence to back up the allegation.
The Division of Water Resources penned another letter to Holt in November 2012, telling him his application for a new permit was still incomplete and furnishing him a checklist of tasks. “Note that if you do not submit a complete permit application and obtain coverage under a CAFO permit you may be subject to enforcement action,” read the letter by Marshall.
Regardless of him running behind on regulations on his farm, Holt said the attention needs to be on getting livestock abuse reported quickly.
This is not the best part of the story. I only quoted it to show you the magnitude of Holt's failure to do his job as a farmer and to follow the law. No, the best part is when he insists, "It’s our intention to be law abiding."
It's our intention to be law abiding. I'm not law abiding at the moment, but it's totally my intention to be. This is brilliant. You get caught speeding? Officer, it's my intention to be law abiding, just as soon as I get to the liquor store before it closes. Maybe you sell drugs? It's cool. We all get that you intend to be law abiding, once you've made enough money.
Hell, even if Haslam signs the Ag Gag bill, animal rights activists who are caught videotaping multiple instances of animal abuse should make an Andy Holt plea. It's like the opposite of an Alford plea. With an Alford plea, you're stating that you're innocent, but you acknowledge the state might have enough evidence to convict you. With the proposed Holt plea, you acknowledge you're doing exactly what the state accuses you of, and then you continue to do it for at least two more years — but we shouldn't hold it against you, because you mean well. The Alford plea is for people who might actually be innocent; the Holt plea is for, hell, anybody who wants to keep breaking the law but doesn't want to pay a fine or serve time.
Anyway, it makes you wonder what someone with a camera might have found during these ongoing two years of acknowledged law breaking on Holt's farm, doesn't it? At the least, there's something shady about a man who can't follow farm laws wanting to make laws that make it harder for abuses on farms to be documented.