The Missouri House of Representatives has passed H.B. 1860 on a vote of 108-32. The bill would make it a crime to record undercover pictures and videos on factory farms. Animal rights organizations have used these methods to expose animal cruelty and unsanitary conditions on farms and in slaughterhouses. Now it’s up to the Missouri Senate. A Senate committee will hear the bill this week and is expected to recommend approval.
The full Senate may vote on the bill later this week. Similar bills were passed in Iowa and Utah this year and was signed into law by the governors of those states, despite whistleblower statutes that are codified into law in the United States.
The Missouri bill would create two new “crimes” in that state. “Agricultural Production Facility Fraud” would make it a Class B misdemeanor for anyone to falsify an employment application to get access to an agricultural facility. And “Agricultural Production Facility Interference” would make it a crime for anyone to take a picture or video of an agricultural operation and distribute it without the permission of the owner. Repeat violations of these laws would carry Class D felony penalties, punishable by four years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Consumer groups and animal rights groups such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Center for Food Safety, Natural Resources Defense Council, the ASPCA, In Defense of Animals, and the Humane Society of America (HSUS) oppose these bills.
Food Poisoning Bulletin asked Paul Shapiro, Vice President of Farm Animal Protection of the Humane Society of the United States, about these bills. He said, “The agribusiness industry’s intent with ag-gag laws is to prevent people from finding out about animal abuse on factory farms.”
HSUS has exposed animal abuse on several factory farms, such as a California slaughter plant that triggered the recall of 143 million pounds of beef, the largest meat recall in United States history. That plant was slaughtering and selling meat from downer cattle, which may carry mad cow disease.