Around a dozen states have passed or are proposing legislation banning undercover investigations on factory farms by animal welfare groups.
Supporters of the measure say they are designed to protect the privacy of farmers and agriculture businesses. Concerns over the conditions in which cattle, pigs and poultry are raised and slaughtered in the large intensive factory farms have prompted many animal welfare groups to carry out undercover investigations.
As there is no single US federal law that protects animals, welfare investigators have played a significant role in exposing inhumane practices including the most recent case where Mercy for Animals exposed five acts of cruelty at Butterball turkey farms in North Carolina.
In Utah and Iowa the undercover recording of videos like these is now illegal. Several other states including Indiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania are considering similar laws known as the “ag-gag bill”. Other provisions in these bills require prospective farm employees to disclose any link to animal welfare groups.
Although there are differences in the bill state-to-state, North Carolina’s bill will make it illegal for people to make false representations to gain employment for the purpose of taking and/or recording images or sound or removing data or documents. It also includes a 24 hour reporting requirement.
Animal advocacy groups are concerned about not only the ag gag bills themselves, but the new requirements being added to some of them that will require evidence to be turned over within periods ranging from 24 to 48 hours.