What do factory farms have to hide? The truth about ag-gag bills...

“Ag Gag” bills passed last year in certain states make undercover exposés almost impossible to produce without the threat of jail time. Anti-whistleblower bills ("ag-gag" bills) seek to criminalize exposing cruel treatment of animals and dangerous conditions on factory farms, keeping Americans in the dark about where their food is coming from.

Just this year, ten states have already introduced anti-whistleblower bills: Arkansas, California, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wyoming, and Vermont.

On factory farms, animal torture, not to mention environmental problems and unsafe working conditions, are all too often commonplace. For years, the meat industry has maximized profit while operating under minimal, if not entirely absent “scrutiny”.

That’s morally, fiscally, and legally unacceptable.

This is why whistle blowing employees and undercover investigations serve a vital purpose in exposing factory farm misconduct. 

According to a New York Times article published this last Sunday, undercover video taken by whistleblowers has proven effective in discouraging exploitation and abuse of farm animals, even leading certain farm employees to face charges of cruelty to animals and contributing to the loss of major customers, including McDonald’s.

The meat industry has responded in a most telling fashion.

In a “the lady doth protest too much” move, the meat industry has pressured many state legislators to introduce whistleblower intimidation bills (otherwise known as “Ag-Gag” bills) that criminalize the reporting of animal cruelty and other factory farm transgressions.

Shockingly, “Ag Gag” bills passed last year in Iowa, Utah and Missouri make undercover exposés almost impossible to produce without threat of jail time. This has already led to reduced activism in those states and a real chilling effect on speaking out against illegal behavior, like animal torture, and other heinous crimes against animals and humanity. 

It seems the meat industry is so desperate to keep its secrets hidden that it has forgotten that we have a First Amendment.

The absurdity goes even further. One model “Ag-Gag” bill, inspired by the American Legislative Exchange Council (a business advocacy group with hundreds of members hailing from farm states) is “The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act,” which outlaws any recording on livestock farms that could “defame the facility or its owner.” Violators of this act would be placed on a “terrorist registry.”

Instead of outlawing videotaping on livestock farms, our government should implement stronger regulatory rules regarding treatment of farm animals, especially on factory farms. Farms that are operating responsibly and ethically shouldn’t have anything to hide. 

That’s just bad business.


Find out more about our national political advocacy efforts on our campaign page. 

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
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Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
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