Utah Bans Undercover Farm Recordings

A bill seeking the ban the production and distribution of undercover films made on farms and ranches passed the Utah House of Representatives earlier this week. The law is just the latest effort by state lawmakers to address the growing pressure from animal rights activists over the treatment of livestock.
The bill in question would make it a class A misdemeanor to hide a recording device on a farm and a class B misdemeanor to shoot video or photographs on a farm after being asked to stop. Class A and B misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year and six months in jail respectively, and cover a variety of criminal offenses including theft, DUI with injury, assault, resisting arrest, and shoplifting.
Supporters of the bill say it is necessary to protect farmers. State Rep. Nike Noel said of animal rights activists, “This is not about animals. This is a group of people who want to put us out of business. Make no mistake about it. We certainly don’t want some jack wagon coming in and taking pictures of [our animals].”
Opponents of the bill say it goes too far and could be used against tourists taking innocent pictures of farms. In addition, they point out that, since there are no whistleblower laws that apply to farm workers, hidden recordings are often necessary to initiate criminal or animal cruelty investigations.
Utah joins Iowa, Florida, and Nebraska in attempting to legislate tighter control of animal rights activism.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer