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Friday, January 27, 2012

No Ag Gagging in Florida

Transparency is important in agriculture. By being transparent and opening our doors, I believe we can continue to narrow the urban consumer-rural producer gap. When we allow people to see our farms, we can put to rest any ill begotten ideas they have about agriculture production.

image from here 

That's why I'm thrilled that Florida has turned down the "Ag Gag" legislation which, if passed, would have made any person photographing or videotaping on a farm subject a person to criminal prosecution and imprisonment. This bill was aimed at getting rid of undercover animal rights videographers whose sole reason for employment was to catch bad examples in the act instead of actually helping the animals. But that's for a different day.

While I realize that the bill and it's proponents had farmers' best interests at heart, what kind of message would this bill have sent to the public? We're saying that agriculture has something to hide - which we most certainly do not.

The best way to provide great examples to the public is to do the right thing - be outstanding stewards of our land and animals. An additional option would be to conduct background checks and double-check employment history of all new farm employees. That's a management tactic that should probably already be in action, truth be told.

Iowa is debating the same bill, House File 589, and I sincerely hope it doesn't pass. We need to send a message to the public that we encourage transparency and closing our doors to photos and videos isn't the way to do that. I fear the repercussions would be far outweigh the benefits of this bill.

What are your thoughts?

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

2 comments:

  1. I think it is good in the respect that it quashes the "you've got something to hide if you need to have that rule" kind of idea from people, though I would have like to see a clause in the ruling to say that it be illegal to use footage for the purposes of defamation or something to that extent.
    I do agree with your thoughts that it gives those the oportunity to maintain their high standards of compliance and ethic and that it would be advisable for employers to background check employees.
    I have worked at some farms here in Australia that the farm policy is that no cameras are permitted on property unless they are those used by management or for record keeping purposes. This ban also includes phone with cameras, which you are permitted to bring on property but they are required to be kept in the car. Some farms particularly those that are providing neich industries such as i micron wool, etc also require their employees to sign confidentiality contracts which include the clause that they are liable for prosecution for any breeches of information transfer.

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  2. Thank you for the international perspective Justin. I actually just saw that an undercover video was release in New South Wales. Such a shame that ag's good reputation is soiled by a few bad apples.

    Thanks for reading!

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