In late 2011, the organization Mercy for Animals released a video shot inside a North Carolina turkey factory farm owned by Butterball. The video shows acts of animal cruelty and neglect—in it, frightened turkeys are hit with what appear to be metal rods, violently kicked, thrown hard against the side of a truck and dragged across the floor. The video also shows birds suffering with bloody open wounds, broken bones and diseased eyes.
As a result of this critical video evidence, five Butterball employees have been charged with felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty. But if big agribusiness had its way, the person charged would have been the investigator who captured and reported the abuse.
In the last few years, the farm industry has been driving the introduction of "ag-gag" bills in state legislatures across the country. The purpose of these bills is to criminalize acts related to investigating the day-to-day activities of industrial farms, including the recording, possession or distribution of photos, video and/or audio at a farm. Such investigations have previously formed the basis of animal cruelty prosecutions and spurred reforms to protect the safety of our food supply.
"Ag-gag" or "whistleblower suppression" bills take many forms. What they all have in common is they threaten not only to cover up horrific animal abuse and food safety problems, but also other illegal or unethical behavior including environmental and labor violations. Animals deserve to be protected, and the public has a right to know how its food is produced.
It is important to let our state legislators know that we do not support the passage of ag-gag bills or any other legislation that would allow animal abuse to be covered up. Many highly respected national organizations representing a range of public interests, including the ASPCA, have signed a statement of opposition to proposed ag-gag legislation.
Ag-Gag and Animal Welfare Investigations
Ag-gag laws aim to criminalize acts related to investigations of industrial farms. Find out why that’s a problem, and watch news reports of recent investigations.
Why Ag-Gag Laws Are Dangerous
Whistleblower suppression impacts many treasured American liberties and norms, including freedom of speech, workers’ rights and food safety standards. Learn more.
Ag-Gag Bills at the State Level
Is your state planning to introduce—or has it already introduced—legislation to criminalize efforts to expose agricultural abuse? Find out.
How can I help?
- If you live in a state that has introduced an ag-gag measure, please visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center online to take action now.
- Join the ASPCA's Advocacy Brigade, a group of more than 2 million advocates who use their voices for animals! As a member of the Advocacy Brigade, you'll be alerted by email when we need your help with animal-related legislation pending in your state and in Congress. Taking action is easy and very personally rewarding. Join the Advocacy Brigade now.