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NM Activist: SB 221 Amounts to Ag Gag

PHOTO: Silencing or deterring whistle-blowers of animal abuses at factory farms is the intent of a bill being considered by New Mexico lawmakers, that's according to Eleanor Bravo with Food and Water Watch. Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture.
PHOTO: Silencing or deterring whistle-blowers of animal abuses at factory farms is the intent of a bill being considered by New Mexico lawmakers, that's according to Eleanor Bravo with Food and Water Watch. Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture.
March 6, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. - Lawmakers in New Mexico are considering proposed legislation that an activist says amounts to being an "ag-gag," a term used to describe laws that seek to silence whistleblowers.

Eleanor Bravo, Southwest organizer for Food and Water Watch, said Senate Bill 221 would make it a crime for anyone who has made a video or a digital recording that shows injury to livestock to not submit the unedited, spliced or altered video to a law enforcement agency within 24 hours.

"It's a convoluted way of deterring whistleblowers, of people revealing things that are going on in these factory farms that are basically against the law, all kinds of laws," she said. "Could be environmental, could be animal protection."

SB 221 states that failing to provide the video to law enforcement within 24 hours would be a misdemeanor. Bravo said she believes the intent of the law is to keep video showing animal abuses at corporate farms from being given to the media and other sources.

State Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, the bill's sponsor, had not replied to our request for comment by the time this story was produced.

Bravo also pointed to House Bill 564, which she said would make it more difficult to sue corporate farms for causing undue noise, water and air pollution.

"It removes their right to seek damages for the effects of living near a huge factory farm," she said.

Bravo said bills in different forms during each year's legislative session seek to protect corporate agriculture.

The texts of SB 221 and HB 564 are online.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM