State 'Ag-Gag' Laws Spreading, Protect Misdeeds from Scrutiny
After a Tennessee governor's veto, proponents of "ag-gag" legislation vowed to try again in that state next year. Bills criminalizing the collection of information about abuses in livestock operations are still being pushed in other states — and the mechanism may be extended to stifle reporting on other environmental abuses.
At least 5 states have enacted some form of "ag-gag" legislation, designed to discourage activists and journalists from documenting cruelty to farm animals raised for food. More than half a dozen other states are considering them. Such bills might typically criminalize omission of an activist's organizational affiliation on a job application — making undercover investigations impossible. Some require immediate reporting of any observed abuse — preventing longer-term investigations of chronic animal abuse.
Now it seems such laws may be used to suppress reporting on "fracking" (oil and gas production using hydraulic fracturing), at least in Pennsylvania, because it often occurs on leased farmlands.
- "Ag-Gag Bill Chokes in Tennessee," Grist, May 17, 2013, by John Upton.
- "Pennsylvania’s Ag-Gag Law Could Protect Frackers," Grist, May 13, 2013, by John Upton .
- "Proposed Farm Filming Ban Ignites Rights Debate in Pennsylvania," Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 5, 2013, by Chris Togneri.
- "Tenn. Ag-Gag Law Might Be Unconstitutional, According oo State Atty. General," Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, May 10, 2013, by Rob Tricchinelli.
- "Governor Vetoes 'Ag Gag' Bill," Nashville Tennessean, May 13, 2013, by Chas Sisk.
- "'Ag Gag' Bill Sponsors Will Try a New Bill in 2014, After Governor's Veto," Memphis Commercial Appeal, May 13, 2013, by Richard Locker.
- "Undead Laws: ‘Ag-Gag Bills’ Are Back To Keep Factory Farm Abuse a Secret," Grist, March 6, 2012, by Tom Laskawy.
- "Will 2013 Be the Year of Ag-Gag Bills?" Grist, January 29, 2013, by Susie Cagle.
- Previous Story: SEJ WatchDog of March 7, 2012.
- State-by-state inventories of ag-gag bills passed, defeated, and under consideration are kept by the Center for Media and Democracy's SourceWatch and the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.