New York Considers Agricultural Gag Bill

The New York Senate is currently considering legislation that would make it illegal to videotape or record on farms or ranches without permission from the owner. The bill is aimed at groups like PETA, which have gone undercover on New York farms in order to document alleged animal rights abuses. Similar bills have been passes in both Florida and Iowa.

At the recent Dairy Day, a celebration in Albany praising the state’s diary industry, PETA activists set up protest booths where they showed video evidence of animal rights abuses documented on New York hog farms. The Ag Gag law, as it is known by some detractors, introduced by Republican State Senator Patty Ritchie will prohibit all videotaping, even by whistleblowers, without permission by the owner of the farm.

Agricultural organizations compared the bill to current laws governing the private sector. Julie Suarez, a spokesperson for New York’s Farm Bureau, stated that private companies like J.P. Morgan and Chase are well within their rights to block individuals with video cameras. Farms and ranches, she argued, should enjoy the same protections.

Ritchie’s bill recently passed the Senate Agricultural Committee, with the only opposition coming from Democrats Tony Avella and Shirley Huntley, and has not yet come up for debate in the Senate. It is unlikely that it will pass, however, given that there are currently no sponsors for the bill in the Assembly.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer