State “Ag Gag” Bills Aim to Criminalize the Exposure of Factory Farm Cruelties

smcdonaldInvestigations, Legal Advocacy Leave a Comment

Factory FarmLast year, you may recall that four states–Florida, Iowa, Minnesota and New York– introduced so-called “ag gag” bills aimed at shutting down the efforts of animal protection organizations to go undercover to investigate factory farms and document the miserable conditions forced upon billions of farmed animals. While these state bills varied in content and scope, they were all supported by animal agribusiness and the mission was clear: keep animal cruelty hidden from public view by criminalizing the filming or photographing of an agricultural facility without the owner’s express consent.

The good new is that none of these 2011 bills succeeded. The bad news is that these bills are back again in 2012, and they appear to be growing both in scope and strength.

So far, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, and New York all have returned with live bills this year, and Indiana and Nebraska have joined the list, introducing similar bills. And there may be other new states joining the fray.

It’s more important now than ever to protect our right to know the truth. These investigations inside of factory farms are the public’s only tiny window into the cruel realities of the meat, milk, and egg industries. And animal agribusiness knows that consumers are outraged with each new factory farm exposé — and rather than taking steps to put an end to the abuses it routinely perpetrates on animals, big ag is putting its muscle behind criminalizing the mere exposure of the truth.

Not incidentally, this money big ag has to throw behind lobbyists to push through these criminal laws comes from the very exploitation and abuse to animals they are desperately trying to keep hidden from all of us. If that’s not enough, it seems blatantly unconstitutional to shut down speech just because those in power don’t like the topic or the ugly content it reveals.

If you are a resident of one of the states listed above, please voice your opposition to your political representatives — and stay tuned for action alerts from us. We will remain diligent, alongside other organizations, in fighting for the right to expose the truth and advocate for animals. Now more than ever, with more and more people interested in these issues and making positive changes, we should all be exercising our right to educate each other on the cruel realities of factory farming as exposed by these investigations. And of course, the most effective thing each of us can do for animals is to simply leave them off our plates.

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