11 hours ago
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Taking pictures of farm operations a felony?
Mel, a reader of my blog, pointed me to a bill introduced in Florida that would make it a felony to enter an agricultural property and photograph operations there without written permission.
And I have to say that part of me really likes that proposed law, and I'll give you an example why, from my local newspapers in the last week:
April 6th, 2011:
Three animal carcasses were found beside a local road and a $5,000 reward was offered by a local animal rights group
April 7th, 2011:
A vet who examined the carcasses says that they were raccoons, and the reward was retracted.
naivete of non farmers and how annoyed she is by it.
In this neck of the woods, all it takes is someone saying that there's a problem and it feels like there's a group of people looking to jump right in an "right the wrong" -- even when there's no wrong in the first place. Take a look at the first picture I posted here, of the sow.
What if I said "I took this picture of a sow that collapsed in a field, obviously too weak to stand up, and I think that she's suffering", and then posted it to the local craigslist animal group? It would take me all of 45 seconds to do, and if I supplied the address, who knows what sort of grief the poor sows owner would have to deal with. People coming to take pictures of the suffering. Calls to animal control. Local news reporters. Animal rights groups. Concerned citizens. When the truth is that she's a sweet girl who just got done giving herself a dip in the pond and is now sunning herself, gloriously and happily pregnant.
But when one of these media frenzies happen, the truth doesn't matter any more, and suddenly you've got a situation on your hands that requires you to spend hours and hours defending what, at the most basic level, is a normal, everyday thing. Sows lay down, and when they're pregnant, especially late-term, they lay down a lot.
I can completely, wholly, without any reservation at all say that I know exactly the kind of trouble that this bill is trying to solve. And knowing all that...
...It's a bad bill.
I don't want to run a farm where I can't have people see what I do. I practice visible agriculture. I'm ok with people coming and seeing what I do. ANYTHING I DO, and so if you really want to come and take pictures, give me a call and we'll set up a time. I promise not to make any special preparations for you. Make sure to wear your boots. I've got mud. boy do I have mud.
I believe that's the biggest problem I have with modern farming methods -- you just dont' see what they do. We have become just too far removed from our food, and when that food is animals, from the animals, too.
Those stacks of cages with 6 birds stuffed into each one, or the pig barn that has to run huge fans or the pigs will die from the ammonia that their waste generates. That stuff gets stuck onto a property hundreds of yards from a road, and no one gets to see it. The barn is neat and clean, and the grass is trimmed on the outside, and what goes on inside no one knows.
I can't make taking pictures of farm operations a felony because sometimes we really need to know whats inside that barn. I feel the same way about photographing police officers doing their work.
As much as I hate the scrutiny I personally get, I accept it, and embrace it because it's the right thing to do.
And that's why I think that it's a bad bill.
Thank you, Mel, for giving me that link.