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Commercial Exposing Animal Cruelty at NC Farms Deemed "Too Graphic"

Photo: Proposed legislation in the State Assembly would allow property owners to pursue damages against whistleblowers. Photo courtesy: HSUS
Photo: Proposed legislation in the State Assembly would allow property owners to pursue damages against whistleblowers. Photo courtesy: HSUS
April 23, 2015

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Humane Society of the United States recently submitted a commercial to select TV stations across the state, highlighting why it opposes so-called ag-gag legislation (SB 433/HB 405) to punish whistleblowers on factory farms.

"Animal cruelty at Butterball and Pilgrim factory farms in North Carolina, exposed by these undercover, whistle-blower videos,” the commercial reads. “Animals buried alive, kicked and beaten."

At least two Charlotte TV stations rejected the ad, which includes images of poultry treatment on North Carolina farms. The stations called the ad too graphic.

Supporters of the legislation, formally called the Property Protection Act, argue it's needed to protect the private property rights of businesses.

If passed, the legislation would allow property owners to recover damages incurred from undercover investigations.
Similar bills are proposed in the Senate and House, but they have not yet been brought to full vote.

Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for the Humane Society of the United States, questions why efforts are being made to curb documentation of what happens at factory farms, if there is nothing objectionable happening on the property.

"Animal abuse is rampant in North Carolina's poultry industry, and if that abuse is too gruesome to show on television, should it be happening at all?” he asks. “The fact is that North Carolina's poultry industry has a lot to hide, and that's why it's pushing this ag-gag bill, to keep Americans in the dark about its abuses."

Shapiro insists that consumers have a right to know how their food is produced.

"If North Carolina's poultry industry has its way, it won't be animal abusers who are being prosecuted, it will be people who videotape animal abusers,” he maintains.

In 2011, undercover video from a Butterball plant in Hoke County led to convictions for animal cruelty.

The North Carolina Press Association and North Carolina Association of Broadcasters also oppose the bill, saying it could make it a crime for some journalists to do their jobs.


Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC