The governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, has vetoed the ag-gag bill that was sent to his desk. The bill was designed to give big agriculture and factory farms a civil cause of action against anyone trying to uncover animal abuse.
McCrory said in a statement, “This bill is intended to address a valid concern of our state’s businesses—how to discourage those bad actors who seek employment with the intent to engage in corporate espionage or act as an undercover investigator. This practice is unethical and unfair to employers, and is a particular problem for our agricultural industry. It needs to be stopped. While I support the purpose of this bill, I believe it does not adequately protect or give clear guidance to honest employees who uncover criminal activity. I am concerned that subjecting these employees to potential civil penalties will create an environment that discourages them from reporting illegal activities.”
Other states who have laws against activities entering factory farms undercover impose criminal penalties. The North Carolina bill would impose civil penalties. The criminal penalty laws in Idaho and Utah are being challenged in federal courts.
Animal rights groups are against the bill because it would undermine the public interest in uncovering animal abuse. The Humane Society’s Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of that organization, said that the bill would have punished whistleblowers at any workplace in the state, including day care centers and nursing homes.
A recent poll showed that 74% of those living in North Carolina support undercover investigations of animal abuse and food safety hazards. Pacelle said in a statement, “the factory farming industry does not want the public to see how animals are confined for their entire lives in small cages, and treated in such miserable ways. We applaud Gov. McCrory for standing up for the principles of promoting transparency and rooting out cruelty, whether to animals or to veterans or to senior citizens.”