While ag gag laws in Idaho and Utah are being challenged in federal court, yet another state is taking up the cause to silence whistleblowers who expose cruelty at farms and slaughterhouses.
Washington state representatives Joe Schmick and J.T. Wilcox have sponsored this year's first attempt at passing an ag gag law with bill HB 1104, which was introduced this week.
The bill would make it illegal for anyone who "enters an agricultural production facility that is not open to the public and, without the facility owner’s express written consent or pursuant to judicial process or clear statutory authorization, makes audio or video recordings of the assets or conduct of an agricultural production facility’s operations …” and leave anyone found guilty under the law facing misdemeanor charges, with penalties including up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Undercover investigations have played an important role in exposing not only egregious abuse and unsanitary living conditions that farm animals are forced to endure, but have also drawn attention to standard industry practices that don’t fit into the mainstream idea of humane treatment of animals.
No state should be considering legislation that shields businesses with something to hide at the expense of animal welfare, its residents, consumer safety and the First Amendment.
Please sign the petition asking Washington lawmakers not to support whistleblower suppression legislation.
As someone who is concerned with animal welfare, food safety, free speech and workers' rights I was disappointed to learn that Washington is considering legislation aimed at silencing whistleblowers who work to expose abuse at farms and slaughterhouses.
The bill in question, HB 1104, would make taking photos or videos at farms and slaughterhouses without permission a misdemeanor, punishable by to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
It should go without saying that undercover investigations have played an important role in exposing not only egregious abuse and unsanitary living conditions that farm animals are forced to endure, but that they have also drawn attention to standard industry practices that don’t fit into the mainstream idea of humane treatment of animals and in some cases have resulted in criminal charges and new laws.
I sincerely hope you will not allow this bill to pass in any form and will instead stand up for animal welfare, consumer safety, free speech and the public's right to know by supporting transparency in all industries, including agriculture.