In 2003, in response to a growing number of whistle-blower reports and videos surfacing about the treatment of animals, sanitation conditions and overall practices of industrial livestock farming, ALEC created a “model bill” called the Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act that would seek to criminalize the production of these videos. The bills that would soon proliferate into State Houses around the country became known as “Ag-Gag Bills” since their clear intent was to silence any reporter that tried to communicate what they found to the public.
The tactics used in this effort are a simple two-pronged approach:
1. Criminalize the act of falsely seeking employment at a facility for the sole purpose of documenting abuse or conditions. This was to target serial activists affiliated with groups like PETA and the Humane Society as well as the burgeoning food advocates that began to train their sites on livestock production.
2. Mandate via statute a set requirement of how quickly any evidence must be reported to the authorities. This is to stop the investigators from accumulating footage, editing it holistically and/or releasing it to a media outfit or to the public directly. This is done under the guise of a “If what these well-intentioned whistle-blowers observe is so criminally offensive, they should be reporting it to law enforcement immediately, not seeking to make their own expose film for YouTube” argument.
This was ALEC recommendation on how to address this problem for the food industry. Don’t try to water down abuse laws. Don’t let the government actually regulate the practice of raising, feeding and killing animals. And DON’T get into a litigation fight with these activists that seek to use the judicial process as their megaphone.
Just SILENCE them. Legally. …and it worked.
Kansas already had its Farm Animal and Field Crop and Research Facilities Protection Act on the books from 1990. Montana and North Dakota had laws from 1991. But in 2012 we saw Iowa, Missouri and Utah all pass an ALEC version of this law.
Amy Myer was the first US citizen arrested on Ag-Gag charges in Utah for filming a slaughterhouse from a public street. Charges were later dropped.
Later this year, National Geographic reporter George Steinmetz was arrested for taking aerial pictures of a feedlot in Kansas.
In 2013 we saw ELEVEN new states formally introduce ALEC-modeled Ag-Gag laws in their legislatures. The fight was on and I am proud to report that the Anti-Ag-Gag, anti-ALEC, pro-1st Amendment, Pro-Food Safety forces went UNDEFEATED and stopped every single one of these. The only close call was Tennessee where the legislature passed the bill and we needed Republican Governor Bill Haslam to veto it on concerns that it was an unconstitutional infringement on Tennessean’s First Amendment rights.
Details of the bills we have stopped below the Vermillion Escutcheon. Notice just how little the bills vary state-by-state, down to the very words they use.
Read Up. Rejoice. …and be ready to fight with us in 2014.
Arkansas - SB14: Interfering with Livestock or Poultry Operations (PDF File) – Sponsored by Sen G. Stubblefield - DEFEATED
A person commits interference with a livestock or poultry operation if the person:California -AB 343: Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act – Introduced by Assembly Member Jim Patterson, coauthored by Members Katcho Achadjian, Frank Bigelow, Rocky Chavez, Brian Dahle, Dan Logue, Brian Maienschein and Senator Jim Nielsen - DEFEATED
(1) Knowingly records an image of or sound from the livestock or poultry operation by leaving a recording device on the private property where the livestock or poultry operation is conducted, with the purpose to cause harm to the livestock or poultry operation;
(2) Knowingly obtains access to a livestock or poultry operation 19 under false pretenses;
(3) Applies for employment at a livestock or poultry operation with the purpose to record an image of or sound from the livestock or poultry operation, knowing at the time that the person accepts employment at the livestock or poultry operation that the owner of the livestock or poultry operation prohibits the employee from recording an image of or sound from the livestock or poultry operation, and while employed at and while present on the private property where the livestock or poultry operation is conducted, records an image of or sound from the livestock or poultry operation;
(4) Knowingly records an image of or sound from a livestock or poultry operation while the person is committing criminal trespass, § 5-39-203, on the private property where the livestock or poultry operation is conducted; or
(5) Knowingly makes a false statement or representation that the person knows to be false as part of an application or agreement to be employed at a livestock or poultry operation and makes the false statement or representation with the purpose to commit an act on the private property that As Engrossed: S2/26/13 SB14 3 01-09-2013 16:30:23 BPG042
the person knows is not authorized by the owner of the livestock or poultry operation, knowing that the act is not authorized.
Any person, except a person described in Section 1070 of the Evidence Code, who willfully or knowingly documents evidence of animal cruelty, in the form of film, image, photographs, print, recordings, or videotapes shall provide a copy of the applicable form of documentary evidence obtained by the person to local law enforcement or an associated animal control officer within 120 hours of documentation to assist law enforcement with the timely investigation and appropriate enforcement of suspected cases of animal cruelty.Indiana - SB 373 - DEFEATED
A person who knowingly or intentionally:A separate bill (SB 391) was introduced to maintain a registry of all offenders of SB 373.
(1) enters real property:
(A) that is owned by another person; and
(B) on which agricultural operations or industrial operations are being conducted; and
(2) takes a digital or analog photograph of or makes a digital or analog video recording or motion picture of:
(A) the real property;
(B) structures located on the real property; or
(C) the agricultural operations or industrial operations being conducted on the real property;
without the written consent of the owner of the real property or an authorized representative of the owner commits unlawful recording of agricultural or industrial operations, a Class A misdemeanor.
Nebraska -LB 204 (PDF File) – Introduced by Senator Tyson Larson - DEFEATED
(1) Any person who makes a false statement orNew Hampshire - HB 110 – Sponsored by Representatives Robert Haefner, Stephen Shurtleff, Bob Odell, Tara Sad and Sharon Carson - DEFEATED
representation as part of an application or agreement to be employed
at an animal facility with the intent of damaging or interfering with
the operations of an animal facility and in connection with such
(a) intentionally causes economic damage to property used by
an animal facility or any property of a person or entity having a
connection to, a relationship with, or transactions with an animal
(b) intentionally places a person in reasonable fear of the death of or serious bodily injury to that person, a member of the immediate family of that person, or a spouse or intimate partner of
that person, by a course of conduct involving economic damage, or
(c) conspires or attempts to perform such actions as described in
LB 204 LB 204
1 New Paragraph; Recordings of Cruelty to Livestock. Amend RSA 644:8 by inserting after paragraph V the following new paragraph:New Mexico - SB 552: Livestock Operations Interference Act (PDF File) – Introduced by Representative Cliff Pirtle - DEFEATED
VI. Any person who records any activity that falls under paragraph III as committed against livestock shall have a duty to report such activities to law enforcement authorities and shall submit any unedited photographs or video recordings to the law enforcement authorities within 24 hours of the recording’s creation.
LIVESTOCK OPERATION INTERFERENCE.--A person isNorth Carolina - SB 648: NC Commerce Protection Act (PDF File) – Sponsored by Senators Brent Jackson, Wesley Meredith, Jim Davis and Jerry Tillman - DEFEATED
guilty of livestock operation interference if the person:
A. without consent from the owner of a livestock
operation, or the owner's agent, knowingly or intentionally
records an image of, or sound from, the livestock operation by
leaving a recording device on the livestock operation;
B. obtains access to a livestock operation under
C. applies for employment at a livestock operation
with the intent to record an image of, or sound from, the
D. knows, at the time that the person accepts
employment at a livestock operation, that the owner of the
livestock operation prohibits the employee from recording an
image of, or sound from, the livestock operation and while
present on the livestock operation records an image of, or
sound from, the livestock operation; or
E. without consent of the owner of a livestock
operation or the owner's agent, knowingly or intentionally
records an image of, or sound from, a livestock operation while
the person is committing criminal trespass, as described in
Section 30-14-1 NMSA 1978, on the livestock operation.
It is unlawful for any person to willfully make false statements or representations or to fail to disclose requested information as part of an employment application that the person knows to be false or incomplete for the purpose of gaining access to the employer's facilities to do any of the following:Pennsylvania - HB 683 – Sponsored by Representatives Gary Haluska, Carl Metzger, Stephan Barrar, Dick Hess, Dan Moul, Mike Fleck and Adam Harris - DEFEATED
(1) To create or produce a record that reproduces an image or sound occurring within the employer's facility, including a photographic, video, or audio medium record.
(2) To capture or remove data, paper, records, or any other documents through duplication, downloading, image capture, electronic mail, electronic transfer, or other means.
(a) Offense defined.--A person commits the offense ofTennessee - HB1191/SB1248: Amendments to State Animal Cruelty Laws – Sponsored by Rep. Andy Holt and Sen Dolores Gresham- DEFEATED by Governor Veto
interfering with agricultural operations if the person:
(1) Without consent from the owner of an agricultural
operation or the owner's agent:
(i) records an image of, or sound from, the agricultural operation by leaving a recording device onthe agricultural operation; or
(ii) uploads, downloads, transfers or otherwise
sends recorded images of, or sound from, the agricultural
operations over the Internet in any medium.
(2) Obtains access to an agricultural operation under
(3) Enters an agricultural operation with the intent t o
obtain unlawful possession of, or access to, any information,
data or article representing any agricultural activity or
farming which is conducted or takes place at the agricultural
(4) (i) Applies for employment at an agricultural
operation with the intent to record an image of, or sound
from, the agricultural operation;
(ii) knows, at the time that the person accepts
employment, that the owner of the agricultural operation
prohibits the recording of any image of, or sound from,
the agricultural operation; and
(iii) while employed at, and while present on, the
agricultural operation, records an image of, or sound
from, the agricultural operation.
(5) Without consent from the owner of the agricultural
operation or the owner's agent, records an image of, or sound
from, an agricultural operation while the person is
committing criminal trespass, as provided for in section 3503
(relating to criminal trespass).
AMENDMENT #1 rewrites this bill to require a person who intentionally records by photograph, digital image, video or similar medium for the purpose of documenting the offense of cruelty to animals committed against livestock, within 48 hours, or by the close of business the next business day, whichever is later, to:Wyoming - HB 126 (PDF File) – Sponsored by Representative Sue Wallis and Senator Ogden Driskill - DEFEATED
(1) Report such violation to a law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the alleged offense; and
(2) Submit any unedited photographs, digital images or video recordings to law enforcement authorities.
A person, other than a law enforcement officerVermont - S 162 – Sponsored by Senators Robert Starr, Norm McAllister, John Rodgers and Richard Westman - DEFEATED
acting within the scope of his duties, is guilty of0 interference with an agricultural operation if the person:
(i) Without consent from the owner or manager of
the agricultural operation, knowingly or intentionally
records an image of or sound from the agricultural
operation by concealing or placing a recording device on
the premises of the agricultural operation;
(ii) Without consent from the owner or manager
of the agricultural operation, knowingly or intentionally
records an image of or sound from the agricultural
operation while committing criminal trespass under W.S.
A person commits the offense of agricultural facility fraud if the person,
with the intent to commit an act that the person knows is not authorized by the facility’s owner:
(1) knowingly obtains access to an agricultural 1 facility by false pretenses; or
(2) makes a knowingly false statement or representation as part of an application to be employed at an agricultural facility.