Just a few short weeks after Iowa shamefully enacted an “ag-gag” bill in an effort to stop undercover investigations inside factory farms, Utah is now joining the list. Yesterday, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed an “ag-gag” bill into law that makes “agriculture operation interference” a crime, punishable by up to one year in jail. What exactly is “agricultural operation interference”?
Agribusiness interests in Iowa desperately don’t want you to see this COK video: In fact, Iowa Ag has been feverishly pushing through a state-level ”ag-gag” bill aimed at criminalizing undercover investigations, like COK’s, that shine a bright light on the cruel and inhumane treatment of animals rampantly found on factory farms. Shamefully, Iowa’s Governor signed this dangerous bill into law late last week.
Last month, we told you about the unfortunate return of so-called “ag gag” bills in several states; these are bills which aim to criminalize whistleblowing exposés of the cruel realities of factory farming. In other words, agribusiness interests are trying to shut down undercover investigations in an effort to prevent Americans from finding out what really goes on behind the closed doors of the meat, milk, and egg industries.
Last 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.
Iowa’s legislative session has just ended, and with it, the Iowa “Ag Gag” bill’s chances of passing this year. With the failure of this bill, on the heels of the failure of New York’s similar bill last Friday, every one of the four legislative attempts made to silence the documentation of the brutal realities of factory farms have failed this year.
The New York legislative session ends today, rendering the state’s “Ag Gag” bill (S 5172) officially dead for the year. Had this bill passed, it would have made it illegal to conduct undercover exposés of factory farms in the state of New York.
This year, four states — Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, and New York — have introduced bills meant to shut down undercover investigations exposing the abuses behind the closed doors of animal agribusiness. While these bills have slightly different language, each one, if passed, would criminalize the act of taking of a photograph or videotaping farmed animal facilities without explicit permission from the owner.
These “ag-gag” bills are not only an attempt by animal agribusiness to hide the cruel and inhumane conditions on factory farms and inside slaughterhouses, but they also infringe on the freedoms of animal advocates and the press. Here is the current status of each bill: