January 7, 2014
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 in factory farms. These bills can also suppress investigations into cruel horse soring, mistreatment of animals in laboratories, and other abuses. These bills could do this by:
- 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 has introduced anti-whistleblower bills in dozens of states. Nearly all 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.
In 2013, 15 anti-whistleblower bills were introduced in 11 states: Arkansas, California, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wyoming, and Vermont. So far, none have passed.
You can help fight ag-gag and expose cruelty to farm animals by:
- Donating to The HSUS's Investigations Fund
- Sharing the investigations the industry doesn't want the public to see
- Pledging to fight ag-gag bills
Who opposes anti-whistleblower bills?
The Humane Society of the United States, the largest animal welfare organization in the nation, and more than 70 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, The Boston Globe, and New Haven Register
- 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 (2), The Herald-Times, The Journal Gazette (2), South Bend Tribune, The Star Press, and The Journal & Courier
- North Carolina: Wilson Times and Fayetteville Observer
- Pennsylvania: York Daily Record, Wayne Independent, and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- Tennessee: Chattanooga Times Free Press (2), Knoxville News Sentinel (2), (3), The Commercial Appeal, Daily News Journal, Jackson Sun, The Mountain Press, The Tennessean, and Paris Post-Intelligencer (account required)
- Wyoming: Casper Star-Tribune