Broad Spectrum of National Interest Groups Sign On to Oppose "Ag-Gag" Laws That Seek to Ban Farm Investigations

ASPCA among groups representing animal protection, civil liberties, environmental, health, food safety and workers' concerns
February 23, 2012

NEW YORK—Twenty-seven national groups representing a wide spectrum of public interests have signed on to a statement opposing proposed “ag-gag” legislation that is being considered in states around the country. These bills seek to criminalize investigations that reveal animal abuse and could suppress critical information about the production of animal products on agricultural facilities.

The statement, which is being provided to lawmakers who are currently reviewing ag-gag legislation, was organized by a coalition of national animal welfare organizations that have come together to collectively combat these harmful proposals. In addition to the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), these organizations include Compassion Over Killing, Farm Forward, Farm Sanctuary, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), In Defense of Animals and Mercy For Animals (MFA).

The statement reads in part:

“These bills represent a wholesale assault on many fundamental values shared by all people across the United States. Not only would these bills perpetuate animal abuse on industrial farms, they would also threaten workers’ rights, consumer health and safety, and the freedom of journalists, employees and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply. We call on state legislators around the nation to drop or vote against these dangerous and un-American efforts.”

In addition to the aforementioned animal organizations, the following groups representing civil liberties, public health, food safety, environmental, food justice, legal, workers’ rights and First Amendment interests signed on to the statement: A Well-Fed World; Brighter Green; Center for Constitutional Rights; Center for Science in the Public Interest; The Cornucopia Institute; Earth Policy Institute; Earth Save; Food and Water Watch; Food Empowerment Project; Government Accountability Project; National Freedom of Information Coalition; National Press Photographers Association; Natural Resources Defense Council; Organic Consumers Association; Slow Food USA; T. Colin Campbell Foundation; United Food and Commercial Workers International Union; Whistleblower Support Fund; and Youth for Environmental Sanity.

In a recent poll commissioned by the ASPCA, it was revealed that 71 percent of Americans support undercover investigative efforts by animal welfare organizations to expose animal abuse on industrial farms and 64 percent oppose making such efforts illegal. Additionally, 94 percent of Americans feel that it is 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.

Undercover farm investigations have also led to the disclosure of crucial health and welfare information and many groundbreaking reforms, including a ban on cruel confinement systems in California, the closure of a massive slaughterhouse that was shipping meat from sick animals to public schools, and the development of humane slaughter protocols.

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. In addition to industrial farms, these bills have the potential to shield slaughter plants and puppy mills from legitimate investigations.