Will Potter is an activist and investigative journalist who has taken on the investigation of factory farms and slaughterhouses with the use of drones. As a critic of the “ag-gag” laws, Potter exposed the dichotomy of protecting the factory farms violently abusing animals and criminalizing animal-rights groups who use audio and video to bring those abuses to light.
In the past, any proof of animal or environmental abuse was expelled from criminal cases because they were captured on private property therefore deemed illegally recorded and documented. With aerial drones equipped with high-definition cameras the images can be captured while still hovering over public property.
Shedding light on the truth should never be considered biased or deemed an act of terrorism by extremists. For consumer protection it is vital to make informed choices about your food purchases regardless of your politics or lifestyle choices. Big agricultural businesses do not want the public to know their dirty details, therefore gag orders are implemented. To date, seven states have protective laws for Big-Ag: Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and Utah – and many others have filed bills to protect big business.
What is Ag-Gag?
It is an anti-whistleblowing law that criminalizes the exposure of animal cruelty in the agribusiness industry in the name of protecting the food supplier and keeping atrocities out of the media and out of the public view. What does this mean? In Kansas, it criminalizes entry into an “animal facility to take pictures by photograph, video camera or by any other means” which may cause harm to the enterprise. In essence, protecting the “good name” of an agribusiness is more important than exposing inhumane, extreme animal abuse. Feedlots are waste lagoons that contaminate local water tables. They have been deemed harmful to local ecology and the environment, but you become a criminal if you want to expose their atrocities.
In his Kickstarter campaign, Potter expressed serious concerns about the policing of aerial photography citing Texas having passed one of the strictest of state laws with regard to aerial photography. This was prompted by a drone photographer capturing images of blood and manure percolating from a Big Ag operation with contamination of a local river.
Though Potter is passionate about his causes, sharing unbiased news with fact-based proof through drone investigations should never be criminalized. Through his Kickstarter campaign, Potter has raised significant funds for drone technology, however a major concern will be using those funds to fight the legal battles that are sure to surface.
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