In 2002, Alabama passed the Farm Animal, Crop, and Research Facilities Protection Act, which criminalized the release of any unauthorized material obtained from farms in the state. A parade of more comprehensive and draconian laws followed years later. In 2011, Florida introduced SB. 1246, a law that criminalized all unauthorized photography, audio or video recording of farms. In the six years since, 16 more bills just like SB. 1246 (known as ag-gags) were introduced throughout the country. Of the 17 states that attempted to pass ag-gags, ten were voted down, abandoned, or eventually ruled unconstitutional (Utah and Idaho). Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota and Wyoming have ag-gag laws currently on the books.
As the Center for Constitutional Rights noted in a comprehensive report on ag-gag laws, legal challenges are still ongoing in North Carolina and Wyoming, so there’s a chance those could be ruled unconstitutional as well. The reality is, these laws are unconstitutional, but more egregiously, they authorize animal abuse by removing the threat of exposure while simultaneously opening the door for food safety and environmental violations.
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