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Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

Deploying Drones to Get an Overview of Factory Farms

For related articles and information, please visit OCA's CAFO's vs. Free Range page.

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."

Potter 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.   

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