Ag-gag is a term used for a variety of anti-whistleblower laws in the United States of America. In Utah and Iowa, the recording of undercover videos showing animal cruelty in farming practices is now illegal. Right now, there are more US states considering these ag-gag laws to cover up the horrors of the meat industry and the rest of the western world is likely to follow.
Will Potter is an independent journalist, author of Green Is The New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege and a TED fellow. He’s mainly concerned with animal rights and environment issues and has become focused on how protest and whistleblowing is currently being criminalised.
In a project that has never been attempted before, Potter is planning on orchestrating a wave of undercover investigations with the use of an arial drone with the intention of exposing the effects of factory farming on the environment.
“The latest trend is that the agriculture industry is even trying to ban photographs of farms taken from the air,” he says. “It is unlikely that aerial photography can document animal abuse, but these industries are clearly concerned. So what are factory farms trying to hide? Will a drone allow us to see the scope of pollution caused by these industrial operations? I’m going to find out…”
“Because an investigation like this hasn’t been attempted before, I cannot make any guarantee of what I will be able to document. However, that’s really the case with every investigative journalism project. I am accustomed to pushing through setbacks and detours in the course of my reporting, and I am confident that I will be able to do the same with this project. An additional risk/challenge is that, even though this photography is lawful, I will undoubtedly face harassment by factory farm owners or workers on site. I am committed to pursuing this lawful investigation and these are risks I am willing to face.”
At the time of writing, Potter has 506 backers and has already surpassed his goal of $30,000 to fund the campaign on Kickstarter. The money raised will be used to fund all arial photography equipment, travel expenses, legal counsel, video production equipment, the website and e-book. Contributors can expect to receive email updates of the investigation, along with the e-book and stickers, among other freebies. The highest contributor (of $5,000) can also expect the drone to be named in their honour.
Although the target has been reached, no doubt any extra contributions will help make this project cause bigger ripples in the factory farming world and further marketing of Will Potter’s findings can then be achieved. If you’d like to give something towards this noble effort in the name of exposing crimes against the environment despite the odds, please visit Kickstarter and show your support. With technology such as the internet and drones, the world is changing and this project may turn out to be a massive catalyst.