The Humane Society of the United States is asking consumers to sign their pledge to fight anti-whistleblower “ag-gag” bills being passed in states around the country. These bills are often sponsored by the agricultural industry, and try to criminalize undercover investigations that have exposed animal cruelty and food safety violations in the past. The pledge asks people to share information with family and friends about this issue.
This year, eleven states have tried to pass these laws that make it a crime to report a crime; they were defeated in legislatures or vetoed by governors in all states. Since 1990, six states, including Iowa, Montana, and Kansas have adopted these laws.
Undercover videos have exposed cruelty in farms in many states, and in 2008 a Humane Society expose video led to the largest beef recall in U.S. history, removing meat produced by Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company that was possibly tainted with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease. That meat was destined for public school lunchrooms.
In February of this year, a bill passed in Wyoming In April, an ag-gag bill introduced in California was pulled by its sponsor after intense lobbying by food safety and animal rights groups. In May, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam vetoed an ag-gag measure, partially because he said that law was constitutionally suspect and may have violated federal whistleblower protection laws. And in Indiana, the General Assembly adjourned without voting on its ag-gag bill.