SIX states are currently entertaining legislation that would ban or restrict clandestine "investigations" of livestock and poultry farms by animal activist groups.
Bills in California, Nebraska and Tennessee would require anyone collecting evidence of perceived animal mishandling to turn over photographs and/or videos to law enforcement authorities within 24-48 hours.
Bills in Arkansas, Indiana and Pennsylvania would make it a crime to photograph or film agricultural facilities without the consent of the owner.
A coalition of animal activist groups, including The Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and vegetarian advocate Mercy for Animals, are opposed to the so-called "ag gag" bills, calling them "an assault on fundamental values" that threatens animal welfare, public health and freedom of the press.
Republican political adviser Mary Matalin has recorded a broadcast spot for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals opposing the Indiana measure. Former "The Price Is Right" host Bob Barker has written letters to Indiana legislators in opposition to the measure there.
Iowa and Utah adopted laws last year that prohibit photographing or taping farm animal operations as part of undercover investigations (Feedstuffs, March 12 and April 30, 2012).