What Is Ag-Gag? Your Questions Answered.

Have you ever heard the term “ag-gag”? Ag-gag laws, no matter their form, are blatantly designed to be a threat to animals, workers, consumers, and First Amendment rights.

What Is Ag-Gag?

The meat industry is waging an all-out war on your right to know where your food comes from. Whistleblower investigations routinely expose horrific animal abuse at factory farms and slaughterhouses. Yet rather than improve conditions, the meat industry is trying to silence whistleblowers by passing ag-gag laws. These dangerous laws often violate our First Amendment rights and threaten animal welfare, food safety, workers’ rights, and the environment.

Many of these laws criminalize documenting and making public the conditions at factory farms and food-processing facilities. Without strong government oversight of factory farms, whistleblowing is an important safeguard against cruel and unsanitary practices. 

Who Do Ag-Gag Laws Impact?

Ag-gag threatens the free speech of not only animal advocates but journalists, concerned workers, and other individuals who seek to inform the public about the conditions of factory farming and the need for policy reform and enforcement of existing standards. The public is left in the dark about many aspects of the food system, and government regulations often go unenforced. 

These laws also ensure that the stories of suffering animals will never be told. Time and again, Mercy For Animals’ undercover investigations at factory farms and slaughterhouses have revealed abuses that shock and horrify most Americans—which is why the factory-farming industry is fighting so hard to keep the suffering of farmed animals hidden behind closed doors.

What Is Being Done?

Ag-gag bills are being introduced and fought across the country. The Kentucky senate just passed a bill backed by the poultry industry that would put new restrictions on capturing footage of factory farms and food-processing sites. In response, Mercy For Animals has been reaching out to our supporters in Kentucky to take action.

The fight against ag-gag legislation has seen major gains. Over 30 years ago, Kansas became the first U.S. state to outlaw taking photographs or recording video footage inside a factory farm “with the intent to damage the enterprise conducted at the animal facility.” In 2020, the United States District Court for the District of Kansas struck down nearly all provisions of this law, finding that it violated the First Amendment. And in 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected the state’s appeal to review. 

Right now, a handful of states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, and North Dakota, have ag-gag laws in effect. In addition to Kansas, Utah and Idaho managed to pass ag-gag legislation that was later struck down. Many other similar bills have been defeated across the country.

What Can I Do?

You have the power to speak up for animals and speak out against harmful ag-gag legislation. Sign up to keep informed and be the first to know if ag-gag is coming to your state.