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What Is Ag Gag

states-of-disgrace

U.S. Constitution First Amendment -Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What is Ag Gag?

Ag Gag is a term to describe state-level legislation aimed at punishing whistleblowers on factory farms throughout the United States. These bills have recently been sweeping the nation, and are the agricultural industry’s attempt to hide the abuses and horrific conditions animals on factory farms must endure. Although each state’s Ag Gag legislation is different, they are all written to ensure abuse on factory farms are left unreported and hidden from public scrutiny.

States that have Ag Gag bills or lawsStatuses of Ag Gag BillsMap Graphic Credit: AnimalVisuals.orgYellow: Passed in 2014   Red: Currentlly Pending   Purple: Passed in Previous Years

Ag Gag legislation:
1) Criminalizes unauthorized video and audio recordings by activists, employees and journalists on farm premises.
2) If recordings are allowed, individuals are forced to submit footage to authorities in an unrealistically short turnaround time, making it impossible to document patterns of abuse.
3) Makes it illegal for an employee to not disclose affiliations with animal advocacy groups.
4) Are an infringement on the First Amendment to the Constitution’s right to freedom of speech and press.

Deceased chick at factory farm
Deceased chick at factory farm
Downed cow being loaded for slaughter
Downed cow being loaded for slaughter

Overcrowded chicken barn
Overcrowded chicken barn

Whistleblower Suppression

Whistleblowers are crucial in exposing animal cruelty, unsafe working conditions and health, labor and environmental violations. With no checks and balances on the agriculture industry, consumers are at risk of eating contaminated food and animal rights organizations, such as LCA, will no longer be able to execute undercover investigations. Some of the largest and most dangerous recalls have been a direct result of covert investigations, including the 2008 investigation of a cow slaughter plant in California where nine workers were charged with animal cruelty and 143 million tons of beef were recalled. Ag Gag is aimed at suppressing whistleblowers for the monetary damages and public humility they cause to agribusiness corporations.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

ALEC explainedInstead of addressing the recurring abuses on factory farms, the industrial farm lobby has turned to state legislators and a corporate bill mill called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). American citizens protesting ALECAmerican citizens protesting ALECALEC is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan membership organization composed of legislators, businesses and foundations that help produce “model” legislation for state legislatures. However, behind closed doors, members of ALEC (corporations and registered lobbyists), hand state legislators the desired changes to the law that benefit their own interests. Currently, there are more than 2,000 legislative members and 300 corporate members of ALEC; representatives sit on nine ALEC task forces where they vote on and approve so-called model legislation. ALEC’s agriculture task force states that they operate under the principles of “enhancing the quality and use of our natural and agricultural resources for the benefit of human health and well-being.” Under the proposed Ag Gag bills, the well-being of factory animals and the health of consumers are secondary to the agricultural industry’s demand for secrecy.

The Dangers of Ag Gag

There are many threats that come with the proposed Ag Gag legislation:

Animal Welfare
Factory farmed animals are constantly mistreated and abused. Without undercover investigations, illegal animal cruelty will resume and farmed animals will continue to suffer a brutal reality.

Food Safety
Mishandling animals, their meat and their byproducts can lead to serious health risks such as the spread of antibiotic-resistant strains of salmonella and staph, and outbreaks such as e coli and mad cow disease.

Marketplace Transparency
Consumers have a right to know how their food is produced. Ag Gag legislation is a direct threat to the rights of the consumer, as it will shield the agriculture industry from any public scrutiny or inquiry.

Workers’ Rights
Ag Gag legislation criminalizes employees who attempt to document unsanitary and hazardous working conditions, and any illegal or unethical conduct by other employees or supervisors.

Environmental Consequences
Documentation of environmental violations at factory farms is crucial in getting the government to impose progressive changes in the way that industrial farming impacts the environment.

Unconstitutionality
The First Amendment’s freedom of speech and press is blind-sighted with Ag Gag legislation. Limiting the constitutional right to photograph and record punishes those who seek free speech and press, without proof of harm. Instead of punishing the abusers, these bills punish those who expose the abuse.

Dairy calves on a factory farm in Northern California Cows knee-high in mud on a factory farm in California
Dairy calves on a factory farm in
Northern California
Cows knee-high in mud on a
factory farm in California

 

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