Due to the circulation of viral videos depicting the abuse and inhumane conditions of factory farms, many states have been attempting to jump on the “ag-gag” bill bandwagon.
State legislatures are fighting hard against animal activist groups, like Mercy for Animals an organization that has released countless video recordings of animal abuse, who believe “ag-gag” laws are infringing upon our Constitutional right to free speech.
“Ag-gag” laws aim to keep the public in the dark about what happens at factory farms, and about the process of how most people’s “food” is made. Investigations about the food industry are good and necessary, in the past these investigations have helped create the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Pure Food and Drug Act, and the Federal Food and Drug Administration. Source
Without video/photo evidence, abusive practices like puppy mills, cock fights, etc. would never have been brought to light.
The agriculture business is notorious for using scare tactics and coining terms like, “agri-terrorists” for groups that wish to showcase and publicize what is truly going on at these factory farms. They stand firm behind the “ag-gag” bills stating that, “A factory owner, like you in your home, has the appropriate right to prohibit you from making recordings,” said Daniel Steenson, the milk producer Bettencourt Dairies’s, lawyer. Source
If these bills came to pass that would mean any person found guilty of this crime would have to serve up to a year in jail and pay a $5,000 fine.
Luckily, so far out of 15 “ag-gag” bills that were introduced to the U.S. last year, in 11 states absolutely none passed. Source
In lieu of these animal abuse videos going viral companies who previously had been doing business with these factory farms have stopped doing so:
- Nestlé/DiGiorno – cuts ties with Wiese Brothers Farm of Wisconsin
- Tyson Foods – terminates business with West Coast Farms of Oklahoma
UPDATE: Six states (Kansas, Alabama, North Carolina, Missouri, Utah and Iowa) currently have Ag-gag laws in place. Source Idaho attempted to have their own Ag-gag law passed in 2015, but it was deemed unconstitutional by a judge in federal court. Source
In conclusion, the truth is that if these factories had proper regulation, and nothing to hide, then they wouldn’t push forth these bills or care about documentation of company procedures leaking out into the public view.
But seeing is believing and the public does not like what it sees.
If you’d like to add your voice to the mix Farm Forward has a petition going around in opposition to these bills/laws that seek to silence those who speak out against the atrocities of factory farming and the abuse that goes on behind closed doors.