April 16, 2013
Anti-Whistleblower Bills Hide Factory-Farming Abuses from the Public
Learn more and see what you can do
Anti-whistleblower bills ("ag-gag" bills) seek to criminalize whistleblowing on factory farms, keeping Americans in the dark about where their food is coming from. Whistleblowing employees have played a vital role in exposing animal abuse, unsafe working conditions, and environmental problems on industrial farms.
Instead of working to prevent these abuses from occuring, the agribusiness industry has been working to prevent people from finding out about such problems by supporting anti-whistleblower bills.
What do anti-whistleblower bills do?
Anti-whistleblower bills effectively block anyone from exposing animal cruelty, food-safety issues, poor working conditions, and more, by way of the following:
- Banning taking a photo or video of a factory farm without permission,
- Essentially making it a crime for an investigator to get work at a factory farm, or
- Requiring mandatory reporting with impossibly short timelines so that no pattern of abuse can be documented.
What is Big Ag's big secret?
These anti-whistleblower bills raise the question, "What does animal agriculture have to hide?" By criminalizing whistleblowing, these bills would make important undercover investigations impossible—investigations like:
- The HSUS exposé of calf abuse at a Vermont slaughter plant that led to the plant's closure and a felony criminal conviction
- The HSUS investigation of a cow slaughter plant in California, which prompted the largest meat recall in U.S. history and criminal convictions, too
- The HSUS investigation of Wyoming Premium Farms, which documented rampant animal abuse and brought charges of criminal animal cruelty for nine workers
What can you do to help fight anti-whistleblower bills?
In the past, the agricultural industry introduced similar anti-whistleblower bills in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, and Tennessee. Most of these bills failed, thanks to a strong outcry from the public and newspaper editorial boards, both of which favor bringing more transparency to an industry shrouded in secrecy and protecting consumers’ right to know how their food is produced.
If your state doesn't have a pending anti-whistleblower bill, you can still help expose cruelty and mistreatment of farm animals by:
Who opposes anti-whistleblower bills?
The Humane Society of the United States, the largest animal welfare organization in the nation, and 59 groups including civil liberties, public health, food safety, environmental, food justice, animal welfare, legal, workers' rights, journalism, and First Amendment organizations strongly oppose anti-whistleblower bills.
- National: The New York Times and The Boston Globe
- California: Bakersfield Californian, Redding Record Searchlight, The Monterey County Herald, San Francisco Chronicle, The Sacramento Bee, The Press-Enterprise, Los Angeles Times, and Los Angeles Daily News (and eight other L.A. Newspaper Group newspapers)
- Indiana: The Times-Mail, Indianapolis Star, The Herald-Times, The Journal Gazette (2), South Bend Tribune, The Star Press, and The Journal & Courier (2)
- Tennessee: Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tennessean, and Knoxville News Sentinel
- Wyoming: Casper Star-Tribune