In 2008, an investigator went undercover as an employee at a California beef processing plant and shot weeks’ worth of video footage showing sick and dying cattle being tortured and forced into the slaughter line. This plant had passed all recent government inspections with flying colors, but the video evidence was irrefutable—this plant was breaking the law, hurting animals and putting human health at risk. The resulting meat recall, the largest in U.S. history, legitimized such undercover investigations—a victory for animals and animal welfare.
Or so it seemed. This recall (and others stemming from similar investigations) was a massive blow to the agriculture/factory farm industry, which is not interested in cleaning up its act. Instead of creating policies to reduce animal abuse, it has decided to simply make sure that the public doesn’t learn about it anymore. We’re now seeing a flurry of state bills that seek to criminalize investigations on farms and put brave whistleblowers in jail—in fact, Idaho, the fourth-largest producer of dairy in the nation, just passed one on February 28. These bills are nicknamed “ag-gag” legislation because they inhibit free speech and give farms a level of protection against negative exposure that no other industry has.
Keep in mind that even if your state isn’t considering ag-gag, those that are tend to be heavy food producers; chances are you have something in your refrigerator right now that came from a state in danger of passing one of these bills. Please support the ASPCA’s efforts to defeat ag-gag legislation wherever it appears—and take a stand against cruelty in all its forms by donating today. On behalf of animals across the country, thank you!