In July 2017, a federal judge declared Utah’s dangerous “ag-gag” law unconstitutional, for violating the First Amendment, calling the law “perfectly tailored toward … preventing undercover investigators from exposing abuses at agricultural facilities.”
Now comes another stunning victory for farmed animals, as the ruling striking down this dangerous law won’t be appealed by the state Attorney General’s Office. Utah’s ag-gag law is officially dead!
Utah passed its ag-gag law in 2012 and criminalized filming agricultural facilities and obtaining access under “false pretenses.” Animal Legal Defense Fund, PETA, and Amy Meyer — the first person to be charged under the law — sued Utah, arguing that the statute was unconstitutional. The U.S. District Court agreed in its July ruling.
Undercover investigations are the most vital tool we have to shed light on the vast suffering of farmed animals, kept hidden behind closed doors.
As Compassion Over Killing (COK) investigators have exposed time and again, working in the darkest corners of factory farming, animal abuse is rampant on meat, dairy, and egg factory farms. Our 2016 investigation of Tyson Foods has now resulted in groundbreaking cruelty charges and convictions.
In 2015, a COK investigative video was filmed inside a North Carolina Mountaire Farms chicken slaughterhouse while a dangerous ag-gag bill made its way through the state’s legislature (later enacted in 2016); this footage uncovered horrific cruelty.
Yet, ag-gag legislation, threatens the ability of whistleblowers to expose the truth.
As COK Counsel Irina Anta wrote in July, “The Court’s decision underlines the constitutional rights of whistleblowers and the importance of undercover investigations by COK and other groups, which have been instrumental in shedding light on cruel animal agribusiness practices. Consumers have the right to know where their food comes from and how the animals are raised and treated.”