Missouri House Approves Ban on Farm Filming

Missouri may become the latest state to ban undercover farm filming as the Missouri House of Representatives voted in favor of the ban, which will move on to the Senate and, if passed there, the governor’s desk.

Over the past several years, a number of states have adopted tough new laws that restrict the ability of animal rights groups and agricultural activists from creating, producing, and distributing undercover films of farms, ranches, and livestock facilities. Supporters of the bills say that animal rights activists are determined to undermine the agricultural industry and that restrictions are only intended to protect local farmers. Opponents say that these bills only shield farms that engage in animal rights abuses and represent a massive government overreach.

The two most famous examples of these bills were recently passed in Florida and Iowa. The Florida legislature, in their zeal to ban undercover videos, created a bill that would criminalize any photograph or video of a farm or ranch taken without prior approval of the owner. The bill was so broadly written that it inadvertently criminalized pictures taken on the side of the road, video taken by police dash cams, and images recorded from aerial observation.

The Iowa bill, passed after several undercover animal rights videos went viral, would have blocked the production and distribution of such videos. When the bill failed in the wake of constitutional questions, it was rewritten to criminalize obtaining farm employment under false pretenses (a typical tactic of animal rights activists).

The Missouri bill is modeled on Iowa’s legislation and would similarly make it a crime to lie on a job application or obtain agricultural work under false pretenses. According to the bill’s sponsor, the legislation is necessary to protect the agricultural industry (which drives the Missouri economy). Opponents of the bill called it an overreaction and believe it will protect abusive farms at the expense of Missouri consumers.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer