Ag-Gag Laws

Ag-gag laws are laws that criminalize taking photographs or videos on factory farms and slaughterhouses.  It is UARC’s position that ag-gag laws are fundamentally undemocratic and serve only to protect those who are abusing animals or violating the law.

Cows confined on a dairy farm. Ag-gag laws make it illegal to take photographs like this one.
Cows confined on a dairy farm. Ag-gag laws make it illegal to take photographs like this one.

The factory farm industry has lobbied for these laws in several states with the help of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  It’s important to understand what prompted this lobbying effort. On countless occasions, whistleblowers and undercover investigators from national animal protection organizations, with the aid of photographic evidence, have revealed abhorrent conditions on some of the largest animal farms in the United States. In many cases, what whistleblowers have revealed have amounted to serious violations of animal welfare and food safety laws, prompting some of the largest meat recalls in U.S. history.

Additionally, investigators and whistleblowers have revealed standard practices that, while legal, would be considered by any reasonable person to be inordinately cruel. For example, employee whistleblowers from Circle Four Farms, a pig factory farm in Milford, Utah, revealed that baby pigs routinely have their heads smashed against the concrete floor as a means of killing them, simply if they did not gain weight fast enough. Shockingly, this practice, known as “knocking” or “thumping,”  is a routine occurrence on the farms that supply the vast majority of the nation’s pork products.

Egg-laying hens on factory farms are crammed into “battery cages.” The vast majority of the eggs produced in Utah come from farms like this one.

The broadcast of photographs and videos from inside the nation’s largest food producers has proven to be an important part of society’s worthwhile discussion on what farming practices should be considered humane and allowable.  These photographs and videos have also proven to be vital pieces of evidence for law enforcement.

Rather than work to end the cruelest and most destructive practices that are common on today’s animal farms, the industry has shamefully tried to create new laws that would stifle unflattering information from ever seeing the light of day. It is regrettable that any elected officials would support such a law that seeks to protect one industry at the expense of the public at large.

Pigs are highly sensitive animals who are more intelligent than dogs, but on factory farms they live a miserable life confined to stalls barely larger than their own body.
Pigs are highly sensitive animals who are more intelligent than dogs, but on factory farms they live a miserable life confined to stalls barely larger than their own bodies.

Utah’s ag-gag law – which has already resulted in a wrongful prosecution against UARC board member Amy Meyer – represents a threat to civil liberties and should be repealed. If you are a Utah resident, we encourage you to write or call your elected officials and urge them to repeal this law. Please share any response you receive with UARC.

Fighting Speciesism and Cruelty to Animals in Utah