What is Ag-Gag and Why Should You Care

Do you ever stop and think where that meat you’re eating comes from? Or do you assume that the animals that give their all to supply you with bacon, chicken and beef live an idyllic life on grandpa’s farm until the time comes?

Grandpas farm by Kenneth Danczyk
Grandpas farm by Kenneth Danczyk

If certain elements of the agriculture industry have their way, your fantasies may be all you ever know. If you live in the US, there may be a a bill moving through your state legislature that is known as ag-gag.

What is ag-gag? Basically, it’s a bill that, if passed into law, would prevent investigations of animal cruelty on farms. They are anti-whistleblower laws.

So, what’s the big deal?

In some states, the law would make it illegal to go undercover to investigate animal cruelty. In other states, you can do so, but the first time you videotape animal cruelty, you have 48 hours to turn it over to law enforcement. That means you will not be able to build a case. Instead, the abuser will most likely get a slap on the wrist and go on his or her happy way.

If they’re doing nothing wrong, what do they have to hide?

Bob Barker opposes ag-gag.
Bob Barker opposes ag-gag (from perezhilton.com)

If you live in Iowa, Utah, Montana, Kansas or North Dakota, you already have ag-gag laws on the books. Nebraska, Wyoming, California, New Hampshire, Indiana, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Mexico, Vermont, and North Carolina are all considering ag-gag bills this year.  North Carolina’s bill was introduced on the same day a Butterball turkey plant employee pled guilty to animal cruelty as the result of an undercover investigationFive workers were charged with criminal animal cruelty, and a top-level Department of Agriculture official was convicted for obstruction of justice in that case. 

To find out more about the bill where you live, SourceWatch has a brief synopsis of the pending legislation in each state.  You can also learn more from the HSUS website

GOP strategist Mary Matalin opposes ag-gag
GOP strategist Mary Matalin opposes ag-gag

If you live in Tennessee, the state Senate will vote on April 16th, so you should contact your elected officials TODAY and let them know where you stand on ag-gag. To find out who your elected officials are, you can go to Votesmart.org, put in your zip code, and find out who represents you in state and federal government.

Still think this has nothing to do with you? Then consider this, The USDA issues licenses and regulates puppy mills in the US. USDA stands for the United States Department of Agriculture. That means that in some states it could soon be illegal to go undercover and investigate puppymills. 

Hmmmmm….. maybe you’ll want to take a look at that bill after all? I sure hope so.

29 thoughts on “What is Ag-Gag and Why Should You Care

  1. Ag-gag is abhorrent. The agricultural lobby has a lot of money behind these bills. It is making it more difficult to get any meaningful anti-cruelty legislation passed in farming States. Most of the biggest cases on farm animal cruelty have come to light because of undercover investigations. (Conklin dairy farm, pork suppliers for Walmart, Butterball turkey, to name a few.) We have a right to know where our food comes from and a right to speak out. Call your legislators. Tell them you oppose bills that make undercover investigations illegal. Tell them you oppose cruelty in factory farming. Tell them you oppose infringements on free speech.

  2. Sounds bad 😦 I can’t understand why some states would want to ban people from having the right to speak out when they see something’s not right in their workplace. Like you say, if there’s really nowt wrong in the industry, what’s the problem with people airing their views?…

  3. I was happy to read that Florida (for once) was not involved…I see they considered an ag-gag bill in 2011 but it died in comittee in March 2012…s

  4. How disappointed that law is……..Ag-Gag, itself completely ignores our animal rights, doen’t it? Very frustrating….*grrrrrrr*

  5. For these reasons as well as others, I don’t eat meat. Still, I can’t imagine why states would discourage the overseeing of responsible agriculture especially when animals are involved. It’s like going backwards, what’s wrong with people?

  6. it’s INSANE, isn’t it? anyone who would oppose this?! i hope there’s a LIST of the analorifices who oppose trying to de-cruel-ize life for animals …

  7. Regardless of if you eat meat or not, this should be of concern to all. All the laws around any type of food process point to one thing only – Big Business and Big Government are interested in profits and shareholder dividends only. They don’t care about collateral damage, or consumers except for their hip pockets.

  8. Its all about greed eh? Treat animals like ***** and you can make more money. Over here in Australia we have good whistleblowers like Animals Australia and people are slowly coming around to thinking about where their meat/eggs etc., come from. I became vegetarian when I discovered how our cows were treated in the live cattle export industry a couple of years ago. Our dogs eat kangaroo which is lean and plentiful but I dont know the inside story about how they are treated. Thank you for informing me what happens over there but we still have the problem with puppy breeders. If we get educated and dont buy from these sources, then their business dries up. Joy

  9. This is my second attempt to comment (some computer stuff is beyond me) 😦 Just wanted to say I appreciate being informed on what goes on in other countries. Many things are similar it seems, treating animals with contempt enables more profits. Its all about the dollar. Here we are fortunate to have people like Animals Australia who keep us informed what is happening. Since the fiasco with our live cattle export industry was aired on tv, I became vegetarian. My goldens eat kangaroo which is lean and good for them, I dont know how the roos are treated though. We also have dodgy puppy breeders here too. Like most things we dont agree with, spreading the information and trying to make people not buy from these people will close them down in the end – we hope! Joy

  10. I know the animals are not kept and treated well these days without even going to the farms. Beef was always my favorite meat and now I can’t eat any beef without getting food poisoning. I have to avoid beef altogether unless its a roast that we crockpot all day. I would love to get bills passed that would take care of the animals and make meat safe again!

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