Missouri’s House has recently passed a bill criminalizing the act of “agricultural production facility fraud,” whereby individuals will be prosecuted who enter agricultural production facilites “by false pretenses…with the intent to commit an act not authorized by the owner.” Animal welfare advocates who seek to expose the reality of food production and animal cruelty on factory farms could face serious jail time if they do not disclose their original intent on their job applications. The bill also specifies that individuals who “willfully produce a record of an image or sound occurring at the operation… without the consent of the facility owner” will be punished. So not only undercover animal welfare advocates will be at risk of prosecution, but concerned employees that seek to distribute unauthorized photos or recordings are also at risk of retaliation.
Fortunately, this bill will help to protect the productivity of meat production facilities. Missouri’s government seeks to eliminate any “interference” with their operations, at the cost of suppressing the public’s ability to know the story behind their foods’ production.
Our basic right to free speech is being stifled in the attempt to protect a business. To my knowledge, no other legislation exists in any other industry that could potentially criminalize concerned employees or individuals that work undercover in order to reveal an industry’s practices. Why does the agricultural business need laws to keep their inner workings behind closed doors? What is going on in these facilities that demands incarceration for its exposure?
Under no circumstances should we be forced to restrain ourselves from exposing injustices in our country.Whether it relates to human workers’ rights, abusive animal practices, or unsanitary workplace conditions, the American public has the right to know and to work for justice in all aspects of our lives. If we continue to allow these types of bills to make their way into legislation, we could soon see ourselves in prison before we are able to know the real truth behind the food on our plates.
One response to “Freedom of Speech (Abridged): The Detrimental Effects of Ag-Gag Bills”
Keep working these issues are worth it!