Ag-gag laws and freedom of the press

“Despicable, unconstitutional, ridiculous, immature, idiotic and mendacious.” And that’s just how Tennessee newspapers characterized the state’s “ag-gag” bill now awaiting [the] governor’s signature.

"Ag-gag" bills criminalize whistle-blowing that exposes animal abuses, unsafe working conditions and environmental problems on factory farms. Instead of encouraging whistle-blowing and preventing these violations, ag-gag laws ensure that consumers and regulatory authorities are kept in the dark.

Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and Utah have enacted ag-gag laws, but such bills were defeated in eight other states, thanks to a strong outcry from the public and newspaper editors.

In 2013, new ag-gag bills were introduced in Arkansas, California, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont and Wyoming. The language has been invariably drafted by the infamous anti-consumer American Legislative Exchange Council.

Thirty newspapers and 60 national animal-protection, workers' rights, civil-liberties, public-health, food-safety and environmental-conservation organizations have recently gone on record as strongly opposing ag-gag bills.

Each of us who feels that our government must never restrict our right and obligation to know where our food comes from should urge our state legislators and governor to oppose the ag-gag bill.

— Andy McCoogan
Asheville

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