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Indiana Ag-Gag Bill Takes Aim At Activists’ Cameras

Proposed legislation in the state legislature seeks to prohibit activists from secretly filming inside beef, pork, poultry and egg farms.

no cameras allowed

Photo: Comicbase (Flickr)

In some states, whistleblowers risk jail time if they violate ag-gag laws.

The Indiana State Senate Agriculture Committee will soon begin hearings on a proposed “ag-gag” bill. If passed, the legislation would prohibit individuals from taking undercover pictures or video from inside animal farming operations.

While proponents say the measure is designed to protect trade secrets, detractors worry it will prevent the exposure of animal cruelty and unsanitary practices.

A National Trend

In addition to Indiana, four other states are also considering ag-gag laws this year — New Hampshire, Nebraska, Wyoming and Arkansas. Meanwhile, Iowa, Utah, Kansas, North Dakota and Montana already have ag-gag laws on the books, and animal rights groups expect Minnesota, Pennsylvania and North Carolina to hear similar bills soon.

This wave of activity in state legislatures comes on the heels of several scandals resulting from surreptitious camera work.

In 2008, for example, secretly-filmed footage from a California slaughterhouse revealed that diseased cows were being slaughtered for grocery store beef. In 2011, a hidden camera showed workers at a Butterball turkey farm kicking and stomping on birds’ heads.

Opponents of ag-gag legislations contend that criminalizing photography will rob employee whistleblowers of their ability to gather evidence of bad practices.

Protecting Proprietary Information

Defenders of Indiana’s bill argue that it serves the important purpose of protecting proprietary farming techniques.

The argument goes that successful farms rely on good animal husbandry, but stand to suffer from having methods appropriated by competitors.

“Everybody does things a little differently, and some are more successful than others,” Floyd Houin, owner of Homestead Dairy, told ABC 57.

Emily Metz Meredith, Communication Director for Animal Agriculture Alliance, argue that people who are truly concerned about animal welfare should not allow it to endure while they record it.

Read More:

  • Farm Protection Is Not “Ag-Gag,” Says Animal Ag Spokeswoman (Food Safety News)
  • Senate Committee To Hear “Ag Gag” Bill (ABC 57 News)
  • Ag Gag 2013: A Continued Attempt To Silence Whistleblowers (Huffington Post)
  • The Dark Side Of Sunny-Side Up (Earth Eats)
Sarah Gordon

Sarah Gordon has been interested in food ethics since she was 15, learned about industrial slaughter, and launched into 10 years of vegetarianism. These days, she strives to be a conscientious omnivore. Now a PhD candidate in folklore, her research has caused her to spend a lot of time in the remote Canadian sub-arctic, where the lake trout (sustainably harvested) tastes amazing.

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  • http://twitter.com/Matt_Dominguez Matthew Dominguez

    Responsible agriculture producers ought to welcome an opportunity to share with the public how it raises animals, not cover up the abuse with laws like S.B. 373.

    S.B. 373 is a severe government overreach and is opposed by a broad spectrum of groups representing civil liberties, public health, food safety, environmental, animal welfare, and First Amendment interests. The agricultural industries’ own animal welfare scientific advisor, Dr. Temple Grandin, calls these anti-whistleblower laws “dumb.” If passed, this law will be used by dishonest employers to intimidate and bully employees from documenting abuses.

    Go to http://www.humanesociety.org/in to take action!

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