March 12, 2012
Harmful “Ag Gag” Bill Fails in Indiana -- The Humane Society of the United States Praises Legislature
The Humane Society of the United States praised the Indiana legislature for holding fast and refusing to pass S.B.184, a bill aimed at criminalizing whistleblowers who expose animal abuse, unsafe working conditions, environmental destruction and other illegal and unethical activities on farms.
S.B.184 would have criminalized videographers who exposed harmful activity on factory farms while shielding abusers from prosecution and keeping the public at arm’s length. The bill died in committee when it was denied a hearing. Citizens had raised concerns over the bill’s threats to First Amendment rights, food safety, animal welfare and workers’ rights.
“Clearly the intent of this bill was to protect animal agribusiness from public scrutiny by punishing whistleblowers and those who expose animal abuse on factory farms,” said Anne Sterling, Indiana state director for The HSUS. “We urge lawmakers in states with similar bills pending to follow Indiana's lead and reject these dangerous bills.”
The agricultural industry has worked to introduce similar ag-gag bills in states like Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Tennessee and Utah. Recently, ag gag bills were rejected in Florida and Illinois, while in Iowa, legislators passed such a measure despite a strong outcry from the public in favor of bringing more transparency to an industry notoriously shrouded in secrecy.
Investigations have played a vital role on the national level in exposing animal welfare and food safety issues related to industrialized agriculture. In 2008, an HSUS undercover investigation of a slaughter plant in Chino, Calif. resulted in the largest meat recall in the nation’s history. The meat suppliers faced a $150 million lawsuit for sending meat from sick and injured animals to the federal school lunch program and the investigation revealed horrific animal abuse.
Anna West, firstname.lastname@example.org, 240-751-2669