Beef Peepers!

Beef Peepers!

A severe  homeland security threat endangers rural America: farm animal video stalkers. A bill introduced in the Iowa State Legislature by Representative Annette Sweeney would forbid taking videos of animals on farms or in abattoirs without permission of the property owners. Getting busted for a first video would be an aggravated misdemeanor; sequels would be Class “D” felonies.

Not to be outdone, Florida State Senator Jim Norman introduced a bill that would make it a first-degree felony to photograph a farm or domestic animal facility without written permission from the owner. No photos from the road, either, just like at any other high-security area. Senator Norman has predictably earned the scorn of reporters, photographers and treehuggers; even right-wing militia members pronounced him a “jackass” and Drovers CattleNetwork observed “When Cameras are Outlawed ….”

The Animal Agriculture Alliance, a noted homeland security think tank, explains that there are  important issues involved:   “agricultural terrorism, food safety, bioterror ….”  Through some shocking breach of security, the organization’s website is littered with confidential pictures of farm animals in situ.

In any case, Animal Ag Alliance knows the biggest threat to National food Security is TV, “the stuff of nightmares,” and warns it’s  “now within the reach of nearly anyone to buy a cheap video camera,” presumably terrorists from the Humane Society, PETA and al-Qaeda. The outfit is holding a security workshop with topics like “Blueprint for Identifying Potential Employee Imposters/Activists,” “Working with Law Enforcement and Prosecutors to Keep Imposters Out,”and “OK – so you hired an imposter/activist – video at 10!” Unsurprisingly, the media are not invited to the workshop.

So next time you hear “Food Security” don’t think about rising world commodities prices, chronic malnutrition and hunger, food riots, or starving millions. Look for YouTube terrorists with flip-cams at a farm, feedlot, or packing house near you.


Hat tip: Mark Bittman


Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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4 Responses to “Beef Peepers!”

  1. Dog Gone Says:

    I have to admit that I think some of the domestic terrorists like some aspects of PETA and further extreme Eco-terrorists are just nuts, and will never become more widely accepted than they are now.

    But the taking of this kind of photos or videos addresses more than just the farming practices as they pertain to animals. In many cases – the purebred horse industry comes to mine as an example – it also addresses the number and identities of undocumented illegal immigrants.

    All these laws would accomplish is less transparency and accountability by farming operations and an unwarranted diminishment of the rights of journalists or more legitimate activists to address issues like the exploitation of undocumented aliens, or unhygenic conditions in our food chain.

    Wonder how much the ag industry special interests paid off these guys?

    Because I DO believe that a payoff exists somewhere, that favors the special interests benefitting here at the expenes of the rest of us.

  2. Anna Wharton Says:

    And we can’t even rely on a wikileaks now given the harsh sentence the soldier got from the US gvmt to make an example of him. Surely, freedom of expression must be allowed somewhere in this flawed bill. Time to change animal rights laws at any rate. They’re too soft and do not account for enough, namely transportation of live animals into slaughter yards. If we can’t all become vegan, at least we can all agree that animals must be raised humanely and that the conditions under which they are treated include respect of their being sentient beings. In Britain, the marketing of farm products accentuates the small farm, free range methods of animal husbandry. Big conglomerate agribusiness is an ugly modernization which works only for the economic efficiency model. Factory farming, GM foods, additives, antibiotics etc. are dirty deals to increase productivity at the expense of small farmer operations.

  3. TRANSCEND MEDIA SERVICE » Sorry, PETA: Undercover Farm Videos May Become Outlawed Says:

    […] of activists and observers are alarmed, of course. Foodie New York Times writer Mark Bittman posted this site to Twitter, which pokes some fun at the […]

  4. Mike Licht Says:


    “More on Farm Animal ‘Protection,’” Mark Bittman, New York Times blog

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