Three State Dems want to criminalize agricultural whistle-blowers with S.162

(This bill was introduced on 3/19 and hasn’t been taken up in committee, so is very unlikely to pass. But it’s an obnoxious piece of legislation that deserves to be spotlighted.   – promoted by jvwalt)

Isn’t this curious? A bill sponsored by three Senate Dems and two Republicans would make it illegal to misrepresent oneself to get a job at a farm with the intent to expose animal cruelty.

Like Nebraska’s bill, Vermont’s S.162 says that anyone who “knowingly obtains access to an agricultural facility by false pretenses” or misrepresents themselves on employment applications is guilty of “agricultural facility fraud.”

In 2010, federal officials shut down a Vermont slaughterhouse after an undercover video produced by HSUS showed workers slapping, kicking and shocking newborn calves who were to weak to stand. The facility’s co-owner, Frank Peretti was convicted on animal-cruelty charges.…

So the Democratic Sponsors are:

Robert A Starr, Essex-Orleans.

Eldred M French, Rutland

John S Rodgers, Essex-Orleans

Joined by Republicans:

Norm H McAllister, Franklin

Richard A Westman, Lamoille

Actual Text:

(b) A person commits the offense of agricultural facility fraud if the person, with the intent to commit an act that the person knows is not authorized by the facility’s owner:

(1) knowingly obtains access to an agricultural facility by false pretenses; or

(2) makes a knowingly false statement or representation as part of an application to be employed at an agricultural facility.

(c) A person who violates subsection (b) of this section shall be subject to an administrative penalty of up to $1,000.00 in accordance with section 15 of this title.…

Is there any other need for this law other than preventing people like the Humane Society from exposing animal cruelty?

7 thoughts on “Three State Dems want to criminalize agricultural whistle-blowers with S.162

  1. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been pushing their lousy agenda through state legislatures across the U.S.  They did the same in trying to eliminate Vermont’s philosophical exemption for vaccinations not long ago, and probably several other pieces of legislation.  (A google search at that time showed Peg Flory and Kevin Mullen as members of ALEC).

    I would hope Vermont’s legislators would recognize and quickly reject this interference in our decision making.  It is a protection for corporate interests and not something Vermont farmers should or ever would want to hide behind.


    “Most of the Ag-Gag laws introduced since 2011 borrow the premise, if not the exact language, from model legislation designed by ALEC. ALEC’s sole purpose is to write model legislation that protects corporate profits. Industry then pushes state legislators to adapt the bills for their states and push them through. The idea behind the Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act is to make it illegal to “enter an animal or research facility to take pictures by photograph, video camera, or other or other means with the intent to commit criminal activities or defame the facility or its owner.”

    In other words, these laws turn journalists and the investigators of crimes into criminals.”

  2. I agree, Comrade R., that the bill is definitely an Ag-gag bill designed to protect the worst practices that can be found on farms and other agricultural production units.

    However, I take issue with a headline that implies “all” Vermont Democrats, or even “all” Vermont Democratic members of the legislature, are promulgating this bill when the real story involves exactly THREE Democrats in the Senate (10 percent of the body, 13.6 percent of the Democratic majority in that body).

    All three of these guys are known to be quite conservative.

    No excuse, and perhaps they will listen to more rational colleagues and/or their majority leader, or their assistant majority leader.

    Thanks for highlighting this particular travesty.


    The time is always right to do the right thing. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

  3. Thanks for the promotion, JV.  I had you in mind when I wrote this, meaning that I re-wrote my parts several times while thinking about ‘civility’ on GMD and how some lament the lack thereof.  When I edited what I had originally written I thought, “What Would JV Do?”

  4. And should be vehemently opposed as such.

    But somehow I suspect that the proponents will argue that this bill is an attempt to indemnify farmers against responsibility for undocumented laborers who lie (as if!) in order to gain employment.

    That link wasn’t working for me, so here is another link to the bill.

  5. Will lead to a loss at the voting booth when they are up for re-election.

    Does anyone know if there are any strong dems or progressives in their districts?

  6. “In other words, these laws turn journalists and the investigators of crimes into criminals TERRORISTS.”

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