Several bills that seek to penalize undercover efforts to expose animal cruelty are currently under review in New York, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska. Many of these bills have been in legislative rest since the 2011 session and are now coming under revision or amendment. All of them call for stiff penalties for undercover investigations concerning animal abuse in agricultural facilities; and some go further and extend that to other animal operations such as puppy mills. The Minnesota bill also criminalizes the act of exposing food safety and labor issues.
Animal cruelty must be exposed and dealt with and often that requires investigators have the freedom to gather information and document such inhumane acts. Investigative reporting has played a historical role in exposing wrongdoings, and undercover exposés have been vital tools for educating the public and lawmakers about the inherent cruelty in factory farming operations. Such reports surface all too frequently, including three since the beginning of this year and ten since the start of 2011. A strong example of this type of investigation was the release of footage from a North Carolina Butterball turkey farm which showed workers maliciously throwing birds against walls during transport loading, hitting birds in the head with metal bars, and birds living in filthy and fly-ridden conditions, some with serious yet untreated illnesses. Often these reports lead to legal action, as in the above example which led to felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty charges against five Butterball employees by state authorities.
Contact your representatives to urge them to oppose these bills; make sure to read over the bill for your state and tell them why you oppose it. If you are in one of the states below, this is a crucial time for you to articulate your voice to your legislators. If you are not in one of the states below, contact your representatives and let them know you will oppose any future ag-gag efforts in the legislature.