By in Animals

Gagging on Agriculture - Against the First Amendment?

Ag Gag Law

Apparently some American states have what is being called an "Ag Gag" law, which makes it illegal to take photographs of farm activity or to apply for a job at a farm, without letting the employer know if you have links with any outside organisation! If you photograph or make a video of a farm, you could go to jail for a year!

1st Amendment?

So where's the right to free speech here? Some animal activists are concerned that animals are being treated cruelly on farms and in slaughterhouses and have tried to take photographs or write articles about animal treatment. Big business owners don't like this - it seems they want the right to treat animals as they wish.


This law is supposed to stop people filming secretly on farms.

Law Enforcement

The law enforcers appear to be stopping people taking photographs from the public road.

Who is Right?

Should big business have the right to treat animals as they wish? Should photographers be banned from taking photographs of farms, even from a public road? I can only let you know what I have read, I don't know the full story. Maybe you know more about this?

Read the original article here :

Image Credit »

You will need an account to comment - feel free to register or login.


paigea wrote on November 5, 2014, 8:58 AM

I don't know if we have anything similar in Canada. I do care about farm animals being treated humanely, but I'm not sure that I want random people filming and publishing their films about farms. I want a complete, thorough investigation by people who understand the industry. I've been involved in farming in the past and it's not all bad.

Feisty56 wrote on November 5, 2014, 10:08 AM

Folks can go to prison for taking photos of questionable conditions and practices in animal treatment? That sounds like something out of Orwell's "1984." I've shared to social media to help increase awareness and perhaps start a dialogue. I had no idea such laws existed.

SLGarcia wrote on November 5, 2014, 10:20 AM

I believe it is a terrible law. The businesses who support this must have a lot to hide!

SLGarcia wrote on November 5, 2014, 10:22 AM

I have been aware of it. One really has to wonder what they have to hide.

Ruby3881 wrote on November 5, 2014, 11:45 AM

I agree with you! So many of the people who do this secret filming stuff are producing propaganda and not balanced reporting. It's sad that it's come to the point where we have to have such laws! It means a lot of this kind of stuff has been done.

And I've seen the films. They're stilted, sensationalist, and rather than seeking to help the animals or encourage the industry to raise its standards, they just cause any abuse to be better hidden and make the industry as a whole hostile to letting the public see its operations.

Ruby3881 wrote on November 5, 2014, 12:00 PM

Look at it from the company's point of view for a minute, Deb. You have a radical animal rights supporter who comes into your workplace claiming to want a job. Instead, that person is there to film without your permission. They might shoot 100 hours of footage that shows people abiding by laws and treating animals humanely, but that will never even be mentioned to the public let alone shown.

They're looking for dirt. And if they find it, they'll take that same five minutes of footage and loop it over and over with clips taken from other businesses. They'll add a voice-over that uses loaded language and cherry picked facts to make the whole industry - or maybe just your company - look like bloodthirsty murderers.

That's the whole raison-d'etre for some of these radical groups. They aren't interested in lauding the places where animals are treated well, because those places don't further their political agenda - usually radical veganism. They aren't trying to improve the conditions when they do see something wrong. because they can't accept that most of society eats meat and eggs and drinks milk. They believe we all need to be re-educated. If anything reminds me of the Big Brother mentality, it's that last bit.

So instead of reporting a wrong to the management of a facility and offering the company a chance to right it, they use it to run a smear campaign. Instead of holding agribusiness and our government agencies accountable, they are tilting at windmills and trying to get everyone to stop eating meat. They think they can shut the whole industry down, and that's their purpose.

If we weren't talking about animal welfare, that sort of stuff would be called industrial espionage. We don't get riled up when laws are passed against that, do we? So why are so-called "ag gag" laws so offensive to us?

If we want a watchdog in the farming industry, let's send in trained journalists and people familiar with industry standards. Vets, people with agriculture degrees, people who have farmed all their lives. Not a bunch of untrained buffoons who jumped on a bandwagon and who are getting a high off of playing at being a spy.

Feisty56 wrote on November 5, 2014, 12:08 PM

I agree with this reasoning, just hadn't thought through any of the details before making a knee-jerk reaction.

Ruby3881 wrote on November 5, 2014, 12:34 PM

I figured that was the case! You're a thoughtful person - in both senses of the word emoticon :smile:
That's the problem with groups like PETA. They tug on our heart strings. They cherry pick and even commit crimes (or get others to do it for them) and then they produce a sensationalist "documentary" that's just pure propaganda. But my question is always, what have they done to further animal rights? How has the world gotten better because of their existence?

PETA has an abysmal record when it comes to euthanizing animals, by the way. They don't work to find homes for the animals in their care. They put down something like 90% of them in any given year, and that number is reportedly climbing.

MegL wrote on November 5, 2014, 5:21 PM

Ruby3881 , the question is, should businesses of whatever kind, be allowed to run their business with no one able to say what is happening, especially when their business affects the health of everyone in the country? In America, with its equality laws, is membership of a legal organisation a reason for (a) not being given a job, or (b) grounds for being sacked or even (c) grounds for being criminalised and sent to prison for a year? In the article at the investigative reporter who wrote it gives examples of meat recalls because sick and dying animals were being put into the food chain, of egg recalls because of salmonella outbreaks due to the cramped and filthy conditions in which the hens were kept and examples of cruel animal handling practices. The job application form can ask if a person is a member of an animal protection group. Does this include the American society for the prevention of cruelty to animals? Does this include the American Humane Association? Should membership of those organisations be a reason for not getting a job? How many inspectors are available, paid by the state, to investigate farms and slaughterhouses for hygienic conditions and animal welfare? Here in the UK, we recently had a big scandal, where donkey meat was found to be entering the human food chain, labelled as beef or lamb. It was also found that old racehorses were being put into the human food chain. That is illegal in the UK, because they are often given a particular drug which is poisonous to humans and which stays in the bodies, so they are not fit to eat.
I am a carnivore. I eat meat, eggs, fish, etc but I buy free range eggs and buy meat from my local butcher, whose meat is all produced on his own farm only a few miles away. Yes, I know it's a bit more expensive and yes, I know that not everyone can do this. It's only because of investigative journalism that I have been educated sufficiently to KNOW that it's best to buy free range eggs. And here in the UK, I have the choice to purchase meat that has a "humane" label, certifying that it comes from a farm and slaughterhouse meeting animal welfare guidelines.

Ellis wrote on November 5, 2014, 5:33 PM

One cannot film what hasn't happened it may only be an isolated incident but that is one incident too many...businesses should have nothing to hide from anyone..

LoudMan wrote on November 7, 2014, 11:11 AM

Most of ou rights are disappearing because we 'Muricans are too chicken and weak to stand up for ourselves. And then, the propaganda machine so many slavishly follow (televisions) cast anyone with guts in a bad light. So, if anyone stands up for themselves, they should expect to be entirely alone and no friends to be found, anywhere.

MegL wrote on November 12, 2014, 9:22 AM

Ellis yes, very true. I think anyone who suffers abuse of any kind might well say that one incident is too many. Many abusers might say "It was only one time", or "I only did it because she/he made me angry".
feisty56 and & Ruby3881 Simply because abuse happens only once in a blue moon does not make it right, nor does it mean it should be accepted. This article is about animal abuse, however, recently there have been cases about child abuse involving celebrities, there are investigations going on at present involving possible child abuse and senior professional people. Care homes for the Elderly in Wales have been told to develop "kindness" as the people incarcerated there are being treated very poorly. It seems that a society that treats animals poorly in the name of "business" is likely also to treat other people poorly in terms of physical abuse, mental abuse, racial abuse and many other kinds of abuse that people have not been educated to understand and reject.

scheng1 wrote on December 7, 2014, 3:43 AM

I find that this is a really stupid argument. If we apply this to taking photo of our house, there will be more arguments.