In Oklahoma, A Right to Harm?

By on April 10, 2015 with 37 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

We all know about the effort by some agribusiness interests to make it a crime for whistleblowers to take photographs or videos that document the suffering of animals on a factory farm, or for an animal advocate to apply for a job at one of these facilities. These “ag-gag” laws have been widely condemned in the media as efforts by agribusiness to hide the abuse and suffering that animals endure at some operations. If they didn’t have the First Amendment to contend with, maybe factory farmers would next seek to stop journalists from writing unauthorized works about factory farming, or filmmakers from depicting animals languishing in confinement, or artists from painting images of the fouling of our waterways with pig offal from factory farms.

It’s fine, by the factory farmer’s way of thinking, for consumers to buy their products in the marketplace, but please, just don’t ask questions or make demands about how they make those products. Damn those consumers for trying to tell agribusiness that it has to let animals turn around, or for raising a ruckus about the factory farms’ leaking, football-field-sized lagoons of pig feces and urine that infiltrate America’s waterways and reservoirs. They just don’t understand what we do – and just better for them not to worry their heads about it.

If that kind of arrogance is both off-putting and dangerous, then also consider the efforts of factory farmers to tamper with the mechanics of democracy. Last year, in a squeaker of a vote, farm groups succeeded in adding a nebulous and far-reaching “right to farm” amendment to the Missouri constitution. Just about every major paper in Missouri said that adding this “right” to the constitution was like inviting a mud-caked pig onto clean sheets. Opinion leaders thought it was a messy, horrid idea, but in a low-turn-out primary election, it won with the barest majority, 50.1 percent. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for an intense spending campaign (almost certainly fortified by the illegal use of pork check-off funds never permitted to be used for political elections, and with politicians currying favor with the farm lobby by singing the praises of the measure), we would have defeated it.

Factory farmers are now working from the same playbook in Oklahoma. There, the state Farm Bureau has been directing the state attorney general to harass The HSUS, and has been making phony arguments – pivoting from one false claim to the next after a lie is discredited. The Farm Bureau is also pushing a right-to-farm measure that’s now winding its way through the legislature.  The Oklahoma measure, which, if lawmakers approve it, would then have to be approved by voters in November 2016, would add this language to the state constitution: “To protect agriculture as a vital sector of Oklahoma’s economy, which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security and is the foundation and stabilizing force of  Oklahoma’s economy, the rights of citizens and lawful residents of Oklahoma to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state. The Legislature shall pass no law which abridges the right of citizens and lawful residents of Oklahoma to employ agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices without a compelling state interest.”

Lawmakers concerned about the integrity of our democratic system should reject this measure. It’s no mystery that the agribusiness lobby wants to wall off its set of issues from any future legislative actions. This means no legislation to restrict extreme confinement of animals, no bans on mutilating farm animals, no restrictions on massive farms polluting ground water or dropping property values by creating a stench, no state limits on the drugs or antibiotics they can dose animals with. With an enterprise as fundamental as agriculture is to our society, do we want really want to enshrine current practices and never allow any future debate and discussion or legislative reforms or limits? Do we really want endless litigation over what types of “agricultural” practices would become protected constitutional rights—puppy mills, horse slaughter, even the raising of gamefowl for cockfighting? The degree of political capture on agriculture issues, at least in some states, is breathtaking.

In Oklahoma voters rejected an attempt in 2002 to prevent any future ballot measures on animal welfare issues – at the same time that voters were outlawing cockfighting. We’re confident they’d reject an attempt to handcuff future generations of lawmakers to debate and discuss ideas related to agriculture.

With their ag-gag measures, their right to farm, and their carving out of subject areas for voters to consider on ballot initiatives, it’s not hard to conclude that people who hurt animals want to prevent good people from weighing in on these matters. They’re bullies, and they are working against fundamental American values of free speech, democratic decision-making, and transparency. We need to stop them.

Oklahoma: Stop the Attack on Animals »

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  1. glenda rhodes says:

    We all need to stand up and speak up for the well being of all animals and their care everywhere.!!!!!

    • Christine Lund says:

      And teach our children where food comes from the way the nuns did to me when I wasted a piece of meat. I never looked at the food the same way again.

  2. danielle says:

    Disgusting. Only word I can conjure right now 🙁

  3. Zig Pope says:

    Mary Fallon, the governor is an award winning darling of ALEC. There is no amount of torture and pain for animals, she doesn’t love. This woman would not even allow money to be spent on tornado safe areas in her state’s public schools-not important enough.

    The state legislature is one big group hug of conflicts of interest. They are driving “creationism” as science and they go out of their way to plunder and poison.

    For a people who proclaim to be “Godly” people, it is clear that Satan is in charge in OK.

    • Christine Lund says:

      After sending an email to her site about her torturing and killing of human beings in her state, I tried to send another on her stance on animals and it refused to give me the bottom of the page to send it. Watch out for her site.

  4. Dusty Stepanski says:

    No animal deserves to be abused and the people who blow the wistle on animal abuse should be given a medal.
    Animal abuse on farms and slaughter houses needs to stop now! These places draw sadistic people who get a thrill abusing and killing animals and they are protected from view by the greedy places that do not want attention brought to what they are doing! People are sick to death about the abuse on farms and want it ended and the abusers brought to justice!

  5. Lori says:

    Its time for our government to step in on something other then big business interests. There is no excuse for there not being a nation wide law protecting animals. Screw what each state feels about it!!! If a state felt it was ok to murder your neighbor because they continued to be bothersome after 4 attempts to stop them would our government sit by and say …..well they voted on it and it passed. NO!! some laws and morals have to be shoved down the throat of some so called humans. It’s time to stop these amoral creatures from spreading their evil because they know how to spin their words to make a soft wool blanket out of some poor sheep that was left cut and bleeding, suffering to aquire the needed supplies for that blanket. I am a voter and I want to know where the President and the rest of those crooked politicians are when I am screaming for intervention that only they can provide!!! No state should have the right to decide that maiming, torturing, and killing anything is ok.

    • Lynda says:

      Good comment, Lori! Members of several organizations in both Illinois and Iowa are holding our politicians “accountable” on many issues both at the State and Federal levels. I also blame the politicians for not doing more with regard to passing laws to protect animals with regard to animal neglect and animal cruelty. Politicians seem to “sweep” issues under the carpet when it’s something they don’t want to deal with! They are supposed to be representing their constituents, and I’m not giving up my right to address the issue and call them on it. You’re on the right track, so don’t stop doing what you’re doing. I get along with most of our politicians, thank goodness. I can’t and won’t believe that God put animals on earth to be abused or treated with cruelty!

  6. Cynthia Mattera says:

    We as human beings are supposed to be the “caregivers” of sentient beings. Instead, these folks are turning a blind eye on the torture abuse, and death of innocent bids, who are cruelly confined, no fresh air, no room to turn around. All for GREED!
    I think The FBI should get involved, and monitor these factory farms, slaughter houses, etc. No animal deserves to live this way, or be treated this way!!! As Gandi puts it ” You can tell the greatness of a nation, by the way it treats its animals”…..Amen!

  7. Kaye Perrier says:

    I received an e-mail stating that the FBI would be intervening on animal cruelty in the population as a whole. I hope that this is a valid e-mail.
    Farm animals is a different issue, but still addressed cruelty. I haven’t eaten beef and pork for a number of years and grew up on a farm. This process of killing, slaughter just can’t be justified. Stressed animals, crowding, cruelty, filth, takes its toll on them and is transferred to those who consume meat. It’s over time for the federal/state government to step in for all our welfare.

  8. Vicki says:

    Yes, we all love animals.
    And – we are NOT powerless to help them.
    Here’s all we have to do . . . or do NOT do . . .
    Do NOT eat them.
    Do NOT wear them.
    Do NOT support circuses, zoos, aquariums, etc.
    The abuse problems will take care of themselves, and your body and the environment will thank you for it.

  9. Franke Nielsen says:

    I was raised in Oklahoma on a ranch/farm. I had a wonderful childhood in the “good old days”, before corporate greed raised it’s ugly head. The term, “The right to Farm” may fool most voters who often seem able to swallow giant doses of “paid for propaganda”. I was a school counselor for the DOD schools for 40 years in Germany. (always coming home to Oklahoma in the summer) I can say from experience you do not need to abuse animals to have a successful farming industry. The EU has excellent laws on animal protection and farmers make a profit. However there are no CEOs making multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses.

  10. Darla Daniel-Seabolt says:

    Let’s just turn the table’s on this problem! Have them feel the pain these animal’s feel. Put them in cages, skin them alive, and abuse them too. Or turn everyone into authorities and SHUT THEM DOWN!!!

  11. Darla Daniel-Seabolt says:

    SHUT THEM DOWN NOW!! Stop them for animal cruelty!!

    • Darla Daniel-Seabolt says:

      Shut them down for all the cruelty, abuse, and skinning animal’s alive!!! Do it now before more are killed.

    • kathy says:

      Why can’t these people understand the pain these animals have to endure?Does anyone have any feelings, then show them and stop all the evil and tortuous action they are performing. Let’s all pray to God that he can stop this cruelty that man is forcing on his precious animals.

      • nancy messer says:

        Hey Kathy,
        The reason theses abusers don’t understand is they don’t give a dam….I really feel that each one of these sub-humans should go have done to them the same treatment that they put in animal through. Lets lock them in small cages, not allow any interaction with others, sike them alive etc etc. May be then these vile sub-humans would put a end to their cruel actions. But …money is their God and greed is what they worship!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. carol rutkowski says:

    hurrah, my heart goes out to all animals that are being abused. I signed a lot of petitions and never heard good came from them. When I heard what Wal-Mart was doing, I’m praying more will follow. Shut them all down till condition, get rid the bad people. When saw what they were doing to chickens etc. other animals, they need our help. As for politicians I have very low profile, they could care less. No I don’t eat meat. The one that hurts so bad (veal, baby cow)

  13. John Burridge says:

    I’d like to hear from a lawyer about some of these ag-gag propositions that purport to prohibit people from photographing agricultural installations from outside the property or above it. I have a pilot’s license issued by the Federal Government and it allows me to whatever I want with my airplane as long as I comply with the rules set out by the Federal Aviation Administration. One of these rules allows me to fly 1,000 feet above ground level in rural areas unless it is in an area restricted by the FAA itself of the military, and such areas are clearly defined either on FAA charts or by FAA “Notices to Airmen”, so who the hell are states like Oklahoma trying to tell me I cannot fly over there creepy hell-farms with a telephoto lens?

  14. Greg says:

    we need to do all we can to force the Government, to get rid of this useless organization, the department of Agg,they are one of the biggest whores on the planet, they sleep with any one who pays them off,they have never done there job, to protect,Animals, or Humans. and how come Mary Fallon, hasent Croked already,she is a real peice of garbage,that should have been aborted at birth.

  15. Noelle Fontaine says:

    Commercial cruelty is a consumer-driven suffering and comes down to high dollar Profiteering by the Fat Cats at the top of each of those companies. They make it a point to hire people with No Conscience to run their commercial farms and the entire commercial food industry runs without empathy, caring or conscience. If they didn’t make any profits from their “industry of misery” they would just go sell something else. None of us would Ever want to be at the mercy of any of those people, from the CEO’s to the cruel workers. These people want to operate without accountability or boundaries, they couldn’t care less about the animals or the people that eat those animals. While HSUS pushes from their side, making sure your Dollars do not support these people is the one thing each individual has control over.

  16. Thomas Martin says:

    The government of Oklahoma makes the Taliban in Afghanistan look lame.

  17. mac says:

    an interesting phrase is “the right to farm”.
    remind you of anything? “the right to work”?
    identical smoke screens used by big biz to jack up their profits beyond gluttony.
    i know this is a site to show the evils of big agra and to take action against such but how about adding families to the mix?

  18. Johanna says:

    Wayne Pacelle, you are truly a hero of mine. Thank you for your tireless work of informing the people and saving the animals. You are very loved by many four, six and eight legged, finned, flippered and winged critters as well as we precarious two leggeds 🙂 You are an excellent human!

  19. Donna Lysinger says:

    There should be no abuse of any animal on land or ocean or air. The fish & other ocean animal’s should have a clean & stench free water’s to live in as that’s there home . Seems that the ocean is polluted with stench that these animal’s have to put up with till gov. put’s an end to it from oil rig”s spilling into polluting the ocean, ocean liner’s , fishermen letting there net’s that ocean animal’s get caught in, killing some, boat ;s cutting into the animal’s skin some die from infection or slice a body part off. Some bird’s are shot leaving them to suffer & die a painful death, wild animal’s at the mercy being poached & killed for part’s of there body’s for showing off what they did, letting the rest of the body to lie & rot away. None of these animal’s, or creatures should be abused in any way., & should be protected. people that do should be punishment till it hurt’s , there pay check’s & way’s that they know how it feels the pain & suffering that these creatures do at the hand’s of inhuman’s to make a dollar, or show off what part of the body they poached or killed for a stupid prize.

  20. Donna Lysinger says:

    Wayne Pacelle, & all those people out there that spend countless hour’s rescureing & helping & fostering & those that give medical attention, & whoever does anything to help these loving creatures THANK YOU ALL & GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

  21. Susan Trout says:

    Anyone who has a mildly functioning conscience and brain should be asking the question…”Why do we need a “right to farm” law? It’s nothing but a deceitful attempt by big ag and all the interests corruptly sharing its bed to pass laws that PREVENT the public from knowing what goes on in those giant torture chambers called barns. I hope and pray the citizens of Oklahoma are a tad more informed than those hoodwinked souls in Missouri. If a group finds it necessary to keep their activities hidden from the scrutiny of the general public (especially the raising of animals!) then something is very, very wrong. This is not national security folks. This is raising food animals and we as consumers have the right to know how they are raised and treated, and a voice to object to cruelty, no matter how seeped in the ridiculous notion that its just “common agricultural practice.” Last time I checked, the word common simply means, “found or done often, prevalent”; it doesn’t mean ACCEPTABLE! It’s way past time for our US Department of Agriculture to completely overhaul any, and all practices, activities that involve or impact animals. As a concerned citizen, you have the right to demand your elected officials take this issue seriously. Hound them. Make it clear that you EXPECT them to address issues that are morally and ethically important. Call or write them today. Your efforts may be the difference between this passing or being soundly defeated. We CAN make a difference. We must! The animals cannot speak. We can!

    • Candy M says:

      Amen, Susan. Amen. While reading thru this thread of comments, it appears there is one common lament. Why? Why is our government allowing this? Well, there’s one answer – plain and simple. MONEY and GREED! And they both go hand in hand. And if you scrutinize how your elected officials vote on animal welfare issues, you will find that, most of the time, they are Republicans! Hmmmm….

  22. Betty Sorrentino says:

    Doesn’t it seem like there are MORE of us who love and support the rights of animals than those who do not? There are so many BIG entities out there who are interested only in big bucks—no matter how much suffering is involved. It seems that there should be something more we can do to advocate for all living creatures. Like stronger laws? Laws with teeth?

  23. captain mike says:

    oh for the day when the people that produce our food are not so caught up in their EVIL ways and turn to doing good humane things

  24. Donna says:

    we are going to have a Shriner’s Rodeo in Oct. Is there cruelty in rodeos.? I brought it up in the meeting and they said there is no cruelty. Don’t believe it. Your opinion please.

  25. Donna says:

    what about rodeo cruelty?

  26. Monica says:

    Right to farm laws are very important! They protect people from encroaching development into their farmland it allows beekeepers and farmers to continue to own chickens on their property after developers have come in and put McMansions right behind their 5 acre plot and try to tell them that they can’t any longer produce their own food or food for the community!

  27. riot says:

    une cage,des cages pourquoi elles ne s appelleraient pas prison pour martyr..

  28. Priest says:

    I thank you humbly for shnraig your wisdom JJWY

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