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May 27, 2013

North Carolinians to See TV Ads Showing Animal Cruelty the Chamber of Commerce is Trying to Keep Hidden

The HSUS Runs TV Ads Opposing Anti-Whistleblower ‘Ag-Gag’ Bill

A new television commercial will begin airing this week to warn North Carolinians that important, long-standing food safety and animal welfare safeguards are in jeopardy because of a power grab by the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce and their allies in the state legislature. The ad urges state lawmakers to block a special interest bill that would make it a crime for investigative journalists and advocates for the protection of animals, consumers and worker safety to document and expose inhumane and illegal activity at industrial agriculture facilities.

The advertising campaign is the latest effort by The Humane Society of the United States to urge opposition of SB648, the whistleblower suppression “ag-gag” bill. The commercial includes footage from numerous whistleblowing investigations that led to criminal convictions, meat recalls for food safety violations and more. These important investigations wouldn’t have been possible had anti-whistleblower legislation like SB648 been in effect.

The advertisement can be viewed online and will begin airing on Tuesday.

The narrator in The HSUS commercial calls on politicians and the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce to stop the legislation because it would criminalize undercover investigations, help protect and shield the abusers and violate the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and the press.

Last week, Wayne Pacelle, CEO and president of The HSUS, sent a letter to the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce asking it to withdraw its support for this dangerous bill, stating “[u]nder the guise of business protection, this bill would prevent the exposure of animal cruelty and food safety threats as well as make it a crime for employees to report on illegal or unethical activity, leaving consumers to wonder what a few North Carolina businesses have to hide.”

Kim Alboum, North Carolina state director for The HSUS said: “Rather than trying to prevent animal cruelty and food safety problems, this bill shows that the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce’s intent is to keep Americans in the dark. Undercover investigations expose abuses that would otherwise remain hidden behind closed barn doors.”

The HSUS has made repeated attempts to work with Chamber representatives to modify the bill and omit language that would outlaw whistleblowing, but the Chamber refused to move from its position of working to silence whistleblowers.

Facts:

  • Lawmakers in 11 states have introduced “ag gag” bills this year but none have passed.
  • Last year, an investigation at a Butterball plant in North Carolina revealed filthy conditions and blatant animal abuse, including employees kicking, stomping on and hurling injured animals into small crates. It also showed many animals with broken bones and gaping wounds covered with flies and maggots.
  • A 2008 whistleblower investigation into a slaughter plant in California revealed sick animals being slaughtered, leading to the recall of 140 million pounds of tainted meat, tens of millions of pounds of which was originally destined for school cafeterias across America. Images of workers kicking cows, ramming them with a forklift and using electric prods and high-pressure water hoses to force sick animals to slaughter led evening newscasts and shocked consumers. This one investigation led to cruelty convictions, Congressional hearings, new policy, a shut-down of the plant and the largest meat recall in U.S. history.
  • Last month, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed a similar bill that passed the legislature by only one vote after the state’s attorney general issued an opinion that the bill was “constitutionally suspect.” In issuing his veto, Gov. Haslam stated that one of his reasons for exercising that authority was out of concern that such a law would make the prosecution of animal cruelty cases more difficult.

 

Media Contact: Anna West: 240-751-2669; awest@humanesociety.org

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