July 19, 201412:09 PM
An independent journalist says he’s found a way around the so-called “ag-gag” laws by flying drones over large livestock operations to document animal welfare problems and pollution.
Will Potter, a Washington D.C.-based author and blogger, recently raised $75,000 on Kickstarter to buy the drones and other equipment to investigate animal agriculture in the U.S.”I was primarily motivated by what’s happening outside of those closed doors, but is still invisible and hidden from the public spotlight,” he tells The Salt.
“In particular, I was motivated by seeing these aerial photographs and satellite imagery of farm pollution, of waste lagoons, of sprawling industrial operations.”The Salt2013 Was The Year Bills To Criminalize Animal Cruelty Videos FailedPotter has cast the project as a way to circumvent regulations in at least seven states that outlaw footage and images gathered undercover by whistleblowers who work in concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.
Dubbed “ag-gag” by critics, the laws make it illegal for anyone to videotape or record surreptitiously on farms.In farm country, the reaction to Potter’s scheme has been mixed.
Emily Meredith, a spokeswoman for Animal Agriculture Alliance, a livestock industry group, is critical of Potter’s plan.”It’s unfortunate that the media and others see Mr. Potter and other detractors and activists as having more expertise than the folks with their boots on the ground every day, growing and raising our food,” she says. “It’s even more unfortunate that people contribute to campaigns like this on Kickstarter instead of investing in any of the other myriad of worthy causes — including working to end hunger.”