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Carrie Underwood Gets Political On Tennessee Ag Gag Bill

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Carrie Underwood is using her celebrity status to attempt to derail Tennessee HB 1191/SB1248, The Livestock Cruelty Prevention Act.

It’s no secret that animal rights groups have hours and hours of video in their arsenal of alleged animal cruelty that they could release at any time. The tapes could be decades old, and the perpetrators could be employees of the animal rights group, but regardless of when these are released, the clips depicting presumed animal abuse do serious damage to the livestock industry.

These videos are often used to prosecute and/or persecute farmers and ranchers -- even if the abuse wasn’t done by the individual. As a result, several states have passed “ag gag” laws, including North Dakota, Kansas, Montana, Missouri and Utah, with similar measures pending in nine other states. The laws require individuals who record cruelty toward farm animals to report the incident and turn in the evidence to law enforcement officials within 48 hours of the abuse.

Many say that agriculture has something to hide by pushing forward these laws, but in reality, it simply protects animals from prolonged abuse, and farmers and ranchers from being accused of something that may have been caught on tape years ago. This law helps to protect our nation’s food supply and offers a measure of protection to the individuals who own private livestock businesses. 

A Closer Look: Do You Support Ag Gag Laws?

In Tennessee, The Livestock Cruelty Prevention Act (HB 1191/SB1248) has passed in the state legislature and is now awaiting the signature of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. The measure stops animal rights activists from videotaping and editing videos to produce ugly abuse scenes on tape and sending these videos to the media, which in turn negatively impacts the agricultural industry.

This measure doesn’t prevent farmers and ranchers in the state from being transparent; instead, it prohibits animal rights activists from getting hired on these operations under false pretenses.

Whether you live in Tennessee or not, I encourage you to call or write Gov. Haslam today and tell him to sign the bill into law. He can be reached at 615-741-2001, or email bill.haslam@tn.gov.

carrie underwood ag gag bill against country roots

Photo by Mat Hayward / Shutterstock.com

Apparently, country music star Carrie Underwood, a big supporter of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) has a big beef with this bill.

According to Taste of Country, “Underwood is furious about a new bill that has passed in Tennessee — and she’s not afraid to say so in public. The ‘Blown Away’ singer took to social media Thursday (April 18) to denounce the Tennessee state legislature for passing the so-called ‘Ag Gag’ bill, which many critics say will help factory farms get away with abusing animals.

“Shame on TN lawmakers for passing the Ag Gag bill,”Underwood posted to Facebook. “If Gov. Bill Haslam signs this, he needs to expect me at his front door. Who’s with me?”

“In an episode of VH1′s ‘Behind the Music,’ Underwood revealed that she became a vegetarian as a little girl after watching her parents castrate calves on the family farm.

“I couldn’t eat those precious cows — they were my babies!” the singer said. “I bottle-fed some of them.”

Underwood continues to support animal rights extremist groups like HSUS, which would happily put her parents’ ranch in Oklahoma out of business. It’s a shame that, once again, celebrities in Hollywood and Nashville will influence legislation in areas they are not qualified to weigh in on. I suggest Underwood get back to her singing career, and leave the agriculture and politics alone.

What are your thoughts on this bill? Share your opinions in the comments section below.

By the way, if you’re in the Fargo, ND, area on April 25th, join me on campus at North Dakota State University (NDSU), where I will be speaking on this topic and other beef industry news at 6 p.m. in the Family Life Center, Room 124. Thanks to NDSU’s Saddle & Sirloin for the invitation. Hope to see you there!

 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 62

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 28, 2013

Spoken like a true beef advocate....

on Apr 29, 2013

anon,

when I hear about piglets being kicked like footballs, or turkeys being stomped to death for fun, it's not on family farms: it's in situations where the workers are removed from the personal relationship to the earth and to the animals that most farmers/ranchers have.

when the humane association goes undercover, it's usually because they have a tip from an employee or even a USDA inspector about rampant abuse and routine brutality -- criminal behavior.

in some states, there's been an effort to label the undercover reporters and investigators 'terrorists'. laws have been proposed to make it illegal to make a recording of an animal suffering. who benefits from making it more difficult to expose this kind of abuse? ummm, only the abusers.

as far as the argument that in the case of jackie mcconnell, the filming was over 6 weeks' time -- the initial video was turned over to federal prosecutors within 2 weeks of the filmmaker being hired at the stables. it was the prosecutors who asked that the video not be released until they had a case in place...filming continued, but it took the prosecutors almost a YEAR before making an arrest.
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"The investigator documented the cruel practice of “stewarding”—training a horse not to react to pain during official show inspections of their legs for soreness, by striking them in the head (with a heavy stick) when they flinch during mock inspections in the training barn."

on Apr 29, 2013

WHOO & gloria eighmey please read the following:
The controversial "ag-gag" bill passed the Tennessee Legislature, angering many who are calling for the governor to veto the bill.

If signed into law, those who document animal cruelty would have to submit their unedited photos or video to authorities within 24 hours or risk criminal prosecution. This, despite the knowledge that a solid investigation can taken months to complete to secure a conviction.

The agribusiness industry, with support from Farm Bureau, claims that it’s trying to stop animal cruelty. They say those documenting abuses should go to the authorities immediately. “This bill is designed to keep animals from suffering,” says Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga.

This bill would have prevented the undercover video and investigation that led to the felony conviction of a well known gaited trainer and horse abuser. Jackie McConnell and his accomplices were seen torturing horses in the name of sport in a 2011 video that went mainstream. McConnell is serving 3 years probation and has been fined $75,000 for his federal felony conviction
If signed into law the will require people to submit within 24 hours.
Ok the video of Jackie McConnell was done in 2011, posted on the USUS web site on May 25, 2012, went viral in 2013. The undercover lady videoing worked at the Whitter Stables for how long, very likely participating in the abuse to obtain the video. She could have called the local sheriff's office or the local SPCA the first day and the horses could have started getting help that day, not weeks later.The video concerning the calf at the veal house, same the video said the undercover guy worked there for 7 weeks, that USDA inspector has a boss, he could have been called that day! It does not take weeks of video to prove animal abuse, as in the Wheelon Stables I have found no information that a video was used, an anonymous tip was called in to the local Sheriff, sheriff called Blount County SPCA and together with the USDA the horses have been rescued and are getting help. What you don't seem to understand is that it takes one phone call to the local sheriff, animal control etc, and an animal can be taken that day. Now the USUS sat on this video for how long ? Does that sound like people that are really concerned about the abuse of animals or does that sound like a group that is using video for their own agenda ? As far as I'm concerned the lady doing the undercover video at the Whitter Stables should be charged with abuse herself for not calling someone on the first day she saw the abuse. Could either of you sit back for weeks taking video while these horses were being abused, are would you have called local authorities immediately. I believe that's what this bill say's, within 24 hours are they can be prosecuted. It may takes month's to prosecute someone but it doesn't take months to get help for an abused animal, and it certainly doesn't take months of video to make that prosecution possible like the USUS is trying to make you believe.So please stop and really think about this does this sound like a group that really want's to help animals are does it sound like a group with their own agenda.

on Apr 29, 2013

westTX,

ok, I'm having a problem posting...it says I've triggered a profanity filter, so I'm going to post pieces until I figure out what it is.

on Apr 29, 2013

you said: "Ok the video of Jackie McConnell was done in 2011,

1. [and the first of it was handed over within days to authorities],

posted on the USUS web site on May 25, 2012,

2. [three days after mcconnell appeared in court],

went viral in 2013

3. [umm, who controls what and when things go viral on the internet?]."
-

as I said before, federal prosecutors had video in their hands shortly after the filmmaker's hiring. THEY asked that the video not be released until they had prepared their case. your information is flawed. your assumption that she participated in the abuse, or somehow had easy access to it is just absurd.

on Apr 30, 2013

WHOO I got my information off the HSUS web site. And you never answered my question, would you sit back for weeks and watch the abuse go on day after day, are would you pick up the phone and call the local authorities immediately ! Why is wondering if she participated in the abuse absurd.And the video itself show's she did in fact have easy access to it. How close was and at what angle was the video to the horses when it showed them soaring the pastern area of the horse? If you have any experience with horses at all you would know she was right there close, where are the hands of the person doing the soaring in the video ? You don't think a group like HSUS would manipulate video so there ya go. Of course she had access to it. WHOO I might ask where do you get your info. inside the HSUS

on May 2, 2013

westTX,

I wasn't ignoring this post. I never saw it.

I was just re-reading about the jackie mcconnell case and found this on americanfarriers.com from april:

" In March 2012, eight horses were seized from McConnell’s stable following the execution of a search and seizure warrant. At the state’s request, the HSUS has been providing the horses with intensive rehabilitative care for the past year and will continue to do so."

*this* is what should make your blood boil. the horses were seized in march of 2012, when the department of agriculture and the FBI had documentation of abuse back in the spring of 2011. the horses were not rescued for a year???

well, all differences aside, I think we are both passionate about animal welfare, and for my part, I will begin by writing to my state representatives. I hope you'll do the same.

on Apr 29, 2013

first of all, the woman was busy doing the job she was HIRED to do -- in another part of the stable, or perhaps in another building entirely? she had to be careful not to appear so nosy that anyone became suspicious. mr. mcconnell DID look mildly startled when he turned from beating his horse and saw her standing there. in any case, she stayed on for weeks after authorities were alerted. she probably would have been in physical danger if mcconnell had discovered what she was doing. and what exactly are you claiming her agenda was other than obtaining more evidence for prosecutors?

let's also consider that the walking horse industry is big business...in a small rural community, these trainers/owners are celebrities. so if you call the local sheriff -- as you suggested -- he and the criminal will have a good knee-slapping laugh over it at the local meat-and-three.

"...in Shelbyville, where there have been hundreds of violations of the federal Horse Protection Act at the National Celebration in recent years, law enforcement is so cozy (and dependent) on the Big Lick you’d think the two were country cousins. It’s a fact -- there has not been one local arrest in over 40 years of widespread horse abuse in Bedford County."

as far as larry wheelan - 19 horses were rescued a WEEK after the authorities first inspected his property: who knows how long it was before the original tip and the rescue. jackie mcconnell was charged with 52 counts, thanks to the video. larry wheelan was charged with 1.

every horse forum I've visited, and every major newspaper in Tennessee is against this bill. this is from a newspaper in blount county where wheelan's horses were rescued:

"The sponsors are Sen. Delores Gresham, R-Somerville, and Rep. Andy Hold, R-Dresden. Hold revealed his true intent last year when he sponsored a measure that would have prohibited any recording of livestock abuse." (it was voted down.) yeah, let's make it illegal to expose the criminals.
-
if you want to stop animal abuse, how about making it a felony to beat your horse until he can only lie on the floor and yelp?

on Apr 29, 2013

haha, just so you know, you can't post about suspicions being u-rouzzed with the proper spelling.

on May 1, 2013

Whoo I was just trying to get you to use your own personal knowledge about horses/livestock and stop and think for yourself. I'm not claiming the lady had any agenda I just know to obtain that video she had to be right there close, otherwise how did she get it ! Personally I would have picked up the stick and beat the man myself to heck with the video I could not and would not just watch without making a really big stink right then and there, sorry that's just me. The horses had to be put in quarantine and couldn't be moved because Wheelon couldn't produce a negative Coggins as I'm sure you understand what Coggins is I will not go into why. The horses were being treated and cared for while in quarantine. Listen I think this Big Lick thing is ridiculous I think these horses should only be allowed to be shown in their natural gait. I quite frankly think its ugly and very unnatural looking. But then again that's just me, I'm from Texas and there is absolutely no need for a horse that travels like that on a cattle ranch. You want to think that groups like the HSUS and PETA are all on the up and up and don't do anything wrong well get right after it, but your time and support would be better used at a local rescue center, animal shelter or you why don't you buy yourself a Tennessee Walker and put on clinic's to educate and show people how much prettier they are in their natural gait and that they can be shown without the pain of the Big Lick. Been nice exchanging comments with you, off to another post!

on May 1, 2013

I find it ironic that people who claim to care about animal welfare will bash the only people trying to expose and stop the abuse. but that's just me. where's the outrage that no one else cares enough to do ANYTHING about it?

thanks for all the advice on what I should do.

btw, haslam *will* side with big business over animal welfare. the only thing that will stop him signing this bill is if his attorneys tell him it's an assault on the constitution, which I believe it is.

andy holt, who co-sponsored this bill, previously proposed a bill to make the reporting of livestock abuse illegal. this current bill was plan B.

end of discussion.

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 9, 2013

This law is being incorrectly labeled. There is no "gag" in it at all; it does the opposite of a gag.

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