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ASPCA Research Shows Americans Overwhelmingly Support Investigations to Expose Animal Abuse on Industrial Farms

Findings also indicate strong opposition to “ag-gag” legislation
February 17, 2012

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today announced that a newly released poll conducted by Lake Research Partners reveals that 71 percent of Americans support undercover investigative efforts by animal welfare organizations to expose animal abuse on industrial farms, including 54 percent who strongly support the efforts. Accordingly, almost two-thirds (64 percent) of Americans oppose making undercover investigations of animal abuse on industrial farms illegal, with half of all Americans strongly opposing legislative efforts to criminalize industrial farm investigations, commonly referred to as “ag-gag” legislation.

The nationwide survey also reveals that 94 percent of Americans feel that it is important (81 percent “extremely important”) to have measures in place to ensure that food coming from farm animals is safe for people to eat, and 94 percent agree that animals raised for food on farms deserve to be free from abuse and cruelty.

“We are very encouraged that the public recognizes the importance of these investigations and the threats that ag-gag bills pose to American values,” said Suzanne McMillan, director of the ASPCA’s farm animal welfare campaign. “Americans deserve to know where their food comes from and how it is produced, and the industry should welcome that transparency.

Ag-gag bills seek to criminalize investigations on farms, often declaring it illegal to take photos or videos on industrial farms. Some of these bills would even go so far as to criminalize the possession and/or distribution of such videos and photographs, a serious First Amendment threat that effectively bans whistleblowers—including employees—from exposing illegal and unethical practices at industrial farms such as sexual harassment, worker and environmental violations. In addition, these bills have the potential to shield slaughter plants and puppy mills from legitimate investigations.

According to the survey [PDF], opposition to the criminalization of undercover industrial farm investigations is strong across every key demographic and geographic group, including political affiliation:

  • Gender:
    • Men: 65 percent
    • Women: 63 percent
  • Age:
    • Under the age of 55: 65 percent
    • Fifty-five and older: 63 percent
  • Region:
    • Northeast: 75 percent
    • Midwest: 63 percent
    • South: 58 percent
    • West: 65 percent
  • Political Affiliation:
    • Democrats: 69 percent (55 percent oppose the ban strongly)
    • Republicans: 59 percent (50 percent strongly)
    • Independents: 62 percent

The ASPCA and its members lobbied strongly to prohibit these provisions from passing in Florida, Iowa, Minnesota and New York in 2011. This year, ag-gag legislation is being considered in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York and Utah. Ag-gag proposals were also being considered as part of two bills in Florida, but lawmakers in January decided to remove the controversial language after pressure from constituents and animal protection groups.

For more information on the ASPCA and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.