Big Ag Trying to Override Veto of N.C. Ag-Gag Measure

By on June 3, 2015 with 14 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Update: Unfortunately North Carolina Republicans kowtowed to the state’s factory farms and voted today to override the governor and pass HB 405 into law. This law turns whistleblowers into criminals, while protecting corporations and people who do terrible things to animals and even vulnerable people. Today’s vote is a loss, but we are winning the larger battle to end factory farming, as last week’s announcement from Walmart proves. Thank you to all of you who called the governor’s office to secure his veto. We will look at all of our legal options at this point.

The important victory for North Carolina’s animals I told you about on Friday is now in jeopardy. Some lawmakers, at the behest of poultry producers and their lobbyists, are pushing to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of HB 405 — an ag-gag bill that would allow unscrupulous employers to sue employees who reveal cruelty in puppy mills and factory farms. The measure is so far-reaching that it would also lead to retaliatory lawsuits against whistleblowers at nursing homes, daycare centers, and other workplaces. It’s that latitude in its provisions that has prompted the AARP, the Wounded Warrior Project, the N.C. Council for Women, and the Domestic Violence Commission, among other groups, to add their voices against the bill.

The proponents of ag-gag need a two-thirds majority in both chambers to override the governor. The HSUS is encouraging North Carolina residents to call House Speaker Tim Moore and Majority Leader Mike Hager and politely ask them to not allow a vote on the anti-whistleblower ag-gag bill, HB 405. We also are running full-page ads in their local newspapers this morning. We’re also glad to have NASCAR driver Leilani Munter, a resident of Charlotte, N.C., lobbying on The HSUS’s behalf at the statehouse today, calling for legislators to stand down and accept the veto.

Remember that lawmakers in nearly two dozen states have introduced varying versions of ag-gag bills in their states in the last two years. Only one – a measure in Idaho – has been enacted, and it is the subject now of a legal challenge. There is a reason so many of these bills have failed: they are bad policy, and their effect would be to close the curtain on obvious forms of cruelty and to place whistleblowers at legal peril, while protecting perpetrators of abuse.

Tens of thousands of compassionate North Carolinians have already spoken out against this bill, as have the state’s leading newspapers:

  • The Charlotte Observer: “One would think that lawmakers would clamp down on illegal activity at businesses. Instead, they are clamping down on those who would expose it.”
  • News & Record, Greensboro: “Repeated investigations by animal-rights groups seem to find that problems exist. Allowing punishment for those who expose bad practices is not the solution.”
  • Fayetteville Observer: “Do we really want to give unscrupulous businesses extra protection? This bill richly deserves the governor’s veto pen.”
  • The News & Observer, Raleigh: “This bill responds to no need other than to protect businesses that should be embarrassed by their activities from being embarrassed. It would protect the strong from the helpless.
  • The Pilot, Moore County: “The N.C. General Assembly was wrong to pass the so-called “ag-gag bill” in the first place, and Gov. Pat McCrory was fully justified in vetoing it.”

North Carolina’s ag-gag bill is not just bad policy but also an affront to the principles of transparency and responsible conduct in the workplace. The state’s lawmakers have a choice: bow to the lobbyists who tell us to put complete trust in every business to always do the right thing, or maintain the existing set of rules that do not criminalize documenting cruel or even illegal behavior when it’s sniffed out. The veto should be sustained.

Companion Animals, Farm Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Spencer Taylor says:

    This is horrible how these animals are treated!!
    Please Help them, Be the voice for these animals!!!

    No more GREED KILLING!!!

  2. Spencer Taylor says:

    Stop the GREED KILLING!!!
    Animals need your voice/ our voices!!

    • Dr. Joseph Krausz says:

      Most if not all of the ag-gag laws that have been passed seem to be gross violations of the right of freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Is there the possibility of challenging the constitutionality of these laws as violations of the First Amendment?

  3. Dr. Joseph Krausz says:

    It would seem that all or most of the ag-gag laws are a direct violation of the right of freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Is there no way that these laws can be challenged by using the First Amendment strategy?

  4. Christine Lockhart says:

    I think the ag-gag law is a direct violation of the right of freedom of speech pro-tected by the First Amendment to the Constitution and should be challenged by
    the citizens of the United States. The animals should be protected from cruelty.They should not be exploited by factory farms, or ranchers,or animal breeders,such as puppy mills, dog fighters,or cock fighting. A person who is an honest upstanding citizen that blows the whistle on these organizations should be protected by law,not the corporations,ect. This shows how the government is bought off by these people. The government and the corporations,ranchers,puppy mill,cock fighters,and dog fighters have no conscience and should have to be made responsible for their actions.This means prison. no exceptions. The corporations should be fined heavily.

  5. Dennis Tackett says:

    Can the HSUS compile a list of animal producers in NC so a boycott of these products can be started? I know Smithfield Hams/pork is there. Also, let’s boycott travel to NC as long as this law is on the books.

  6. Dennis Tackett says:

    Consumers of food have a right to know how their food is produced. There is a public interest in ensuring animal laws are enforced.

  7. Annette Luffman-Johnson says:

    Please help these poor animals from abuse and cruelty…that WILL NOT HAPPEN IF WHISTLE BLOWERS are PUNISHED! What happened to FREEDOM OF SPEACH, anyway.

  8. Ginger K. Martin says:

    We, as advocates for animals and all of those who cannot speak for themselves must stand up and take action in order to see justice.

  9. valda joy purvis says:

    Imposing the AG-GAG bill on animals is the same as denying us freedom of speech,this depravity to the animals was first introduced by the Govenour of Iowa Mr. Terry Branstadt and his cohort Mr. Joe Seng.rumoured to be a veterinarian of all things ,and has since spread it’s tecnacles to my country Australia and so far has been rejected ,önly those who do have something to hide “would contemplate having this horrific injustice to the animals made law ,they seek to criminalise those who expose the unheigenic ,conditions and atrocities that some close their eyes to ,these poor animals live a life of misery ,please don’t add to it by supporting this depravity the AG-GAG bill by doing so they will have no protection from these filthy abusers.

  10. Connie Brady says:

    North Carolina Republicans and a heck of alot of other so-called “Representatives” of “we the people” are surely getting $$$’s in their pockets from the states factory farms. And, it’s not only North Carolina.

  11. Phyl says:

    We have to keep up the pressure for all animals to be treated ethically, not abused or treated with cruelty. All ag businesses MUST be full camera to pick up abuses to any creature. Fine all people/businesses that treat any animal cruel!

  12. David Davis says:

    These greedy,cruel soulless people know no bounds. And they subsidize their(some) politicians. Disgusting! But let`s keep calling them out.

  13. Anna Arnstein says:

    Keep fighting against cruelty. That’s that!

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