A North Carolina ag-gag law enacted in 2015 has just been ruled unconstitutional. Under the law, employees of businesses—including factory farms—could be sued for recording meetings or publicizing internal documents. Civil penalties could reach $5,000 for each day information is gathered and recorded. This law, along with others like it, is designed to sweep evidence of animal cruelty under the rug and shield factory farms from consequences.
Prior to the law’s enactment, Mercy For Animals undercover investigations in North Carolina had exposed animal cruelty, leading to criminal convictions and police raids of factory farms. Our investigation into Butterball—the largest turkey producer in the country—resulted in the first-ever felony conviction related to factory-farmed poultry in the United States. After an investigation into Purdue Farms, the company announced the most comprehensive animal welfare policy ever adopted by a major chicken producer. Undercover investigations are vital to exposing abuse and facilitating meaningful changes.
North Carolina’s 2015 law not only barred activists from exposing abuses inside factory farms but made holding people and companies accountable for bad actions more difficult for journalists. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, as well as more than 20 media organizations, filed a legal brief demanding that the law be overturned. It reads in part:
If whistleblowers (and other would-be sources) are punished for documenting evidence of dangerous, illegal, or unethical activity that they encounter, journalists will not be able to do their jobs effectively.
Federal district court judge Thomas Schroeder ruled in their favor, citing a “realistic danger that the Act” would “compromise the First Amendment rights of parties not before the court.”
While courts strike down ag-gag laws, you can take a stand against cruelty by choosing more plant-based meals. Download our FREE Vegetarian Starter Guide for tips and easy meal ideas, and share videos from Mercy For Animals’ undercover investigations to help spread the word!