Environmental Groups Protest Utah Gag Bill

Environmental and animal rights activist groups are joining forces with health organizations to protest Utah’s agricultural gag bill.

The law in question makes it illegal to videotape or photograph farms and ranches without permission from the owner. While the punishments are not as harsh as similar laws in other states (Florida’s proposed legislation would make unauthorized video recording a felony), some environmental groups are afraid that it will have a chilling effect across the state.

Animal rights groups argue that the bill is a naked attempt to cover up ongoing instances of animal cruelty. The bill’s sponsors, however, maintain that animal rights groups are extremists who want to use “national propaganda” to shut down farms across the country.

Recently, the Food Integrity Campaign, a part of the Government Accountability Project, has gotten involved and is pressuring lawmakers in the state senate to oppose the bill.

A major problem with the bill, the Food Integrity Campaign claims, is that it offers no protection for whistleblowers. It is through whistleblowers and private undercover investigations that many animal rights abuse cases are uncovered. In addition, major Food and Drug Administration violations have been uncovered using undercover video. The 1990s Food Lion scandal, where the grocery store was caught selling expired meat, was only proven thanks to an undercover media expose.

Removing these tools from investigators, some argue, could endanger public health and safety.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer