Mercy for Animals opposes an ‘ag-gag’ bill in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Gazette

Mercy for Animals is responding to reports that Wisconsin lawmakers plan to propose an “ag-gag” bill aimed at prohibiting the taking of photographs or videos on a farm without the owner’s permission.

Mercy for Animals is one of the groups at the forefront of a campaign to expose animal cruelty at farms and in the factory farming industry using videos and photographs taken by undercover investigators.

In a statement released on Jan. 29, Mercy said a Wisconsin bill would be in direct response to Mercy’s 2014 undercover investigations at Wisconsin dairy factory farms. The investigations exposed workers kicking, punching, beating and dragging cows and resulted in arrests and criminal prosecution.

Nathan Runkle, Mercy For Animals’ founder and president, said in a statement on Jan. 29: “Mercy For Animals, like most Americans, is adamantly opposed to Wisconsin’s dangerous ag-gag bill. This misguided bill is a blatant violation of free speech and freedom of the press. It keeps consumers in the dark, threatens public health, and hurts animals by shielding animal abusers from public scrutiny.

He continued, “If passed, this ag-gag bill would create a safe haven for animal abuse and other criminal activity on Wisconsin’s factory farms. Not only does this bill virtually guarantee animal abuse will continue, it also threatens workers’ rights, consumer health, food safety, and the freedom of journalists, employees, and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply.”

One Mercy For Animals undercover investigation at Wiese Brothers Farms in Greenleaf revealed workers viciously kicking, beating, whipping, dragging and stabbing cows. The investigation resulted in the arrest and prosecution of four workers, who were convicted of multiple counts of criminal cruelty to animals. The investigation also led Nestlé, the largest food company in the world, to institute a comprehensive animal welfare policy designed to prevent egregious animal abuse for all of its suppliers worldwide.

Runkle said, “The Legislature should be strengthening laws to prevent animal abuse on factory farms. Instead, Wisconsin lawmakers are working overtime to silence the brave whistleblowers who expose cruelty to animals or other serious crimes.

“Wisconsin’s ag-gag bill is patently un-American, dangerous, and a broad government overreach. Clearly Wisconsin’s factory farmers have a lot to hide from the American people if they are willing to go to such despicable lengths to conceal their cruel and abusive practices.”