In what could be a crushing blow for animal welfare, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead signed a bill into law on Thursday that resembles the "ag-gag" legislation plaguing the country. Though "anti-trespassing" bills like these profess to protect farmers from threats to their business, there is concern they could become gag orders on agricultural whistleblowers.
Mead claimed in a statement that "the legislation is aimed at protecting and strengthening private property rights and has nothing to do with animals or animal cruelty," and the Humane Society Of The United States expressed "hope and trust" that his claim is correct, but noted to The Dodo, "The public outcry about the potential impact on animal welfare is further proof that Wyomingites, and Americans in general, are deeply concerned about the treatment of animals in industrialized agriculture. Citizens want more transparency in our food system, not less."
And some groups expressed concern with the legislation.
"We think the law will still impact undercover investigations at animal agriculture facilities and therefore is an ag-gag law," Paige Tomaselli, senior staff attorney for the Center for Food Safety, told The Dodo. "The law criminalized collecting data about the way animals are raised and potential food safety violations via undercover investigations. This has a chilling effect on undercover investigations."