Kansas, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Iowa and Missouri all have anti-whistleblower laws in place, and several other states have proposed but failed to pass legislation like this. But the laws are still unclear in terms of enforcement - in fact, on Tuesday prosecutors in Utah dropped charges against four animal activists for violating the state's ag-gag law.
Entering an agricultural facility and filming what happens there would be considered a gross misdemeanor under the proposed legislation, and could be punished with up to one year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. But national polling commissioned by the ASPCA in 2012 and conducted by the firm Lake Research Partners found that two-thirds of Americans oppose outlawing undercover investigations of animal treatment, and 54 percent strongly support efforts to reveal animal cruelty at industrial farms.
In the past year alone, several undercover farm investigations, including ones at suppliers to DiGiorno's and Koch Foods, revealed disturbing and sometimes illegal treatment of animals. In the past few weeks, an activist who spent 57 days undercover working at a "spent hen" facility in Minnesota, filmed chickens being scalded alive. With ag-gag bills in place, these investigations are illegal - and so the animal welfare violations they record continue unchecked.