Wyoming’s House of Representatives is the latest legislative body pass a “ag-gag” law, a new breed of legislation which makes it illegal to record video or photograph inside factory livestock farms. From Food Safety News:
In her bill, [Republican Sue Wallis] makes it a crime to “knowingly or intentionally” record images or sounds of an agricultural operation with concealed devices without the consent of the owner. Six months in jail and a $750 fine are provided as penalty. But anyone reporting animal abuse to local police within 48 hours is immune from civil liability.
If the bill passes in Wyoming’s state senate, it would become the fourth state to pass anti-whitsleblower laws. Iowa, Utah, and Missouri all passed similar bills last year, though Wyoming would be the only state to mandate jail time for those (including employees) who film in slaughterhouses.
New Hampshire, Indiana, Nebraska and Arkansas are all also considering their own versions of ag-gag laws. Last year saw 10 states attempting to pass similar piece of legislation, with many backing down after public outcry or worries about the constitutionality of the proposed bills.
Ag-gag laws have sprung up in response to the increasing number of videos taken in large-scale slaughterhouses showing a dizzying number of abuses. In Wyoming’s case, a video taken at a Wheatland, WY hog farm showed workers beating sows and tossing piglets. A later investigation turned up a number of abuses. From the Casper Star-Tribune:
A subsequent investigation by the Wyoming Livestock Board uncovered numerous harrowing incidents.
— Workers cut off the testicles of piglets and fed them to their sow.
— A woman worker who weighed more than 200 pounds sat on a sow that couldn’t walk because of a broken leg and was screaming in agony.
— Workers throwing piglets as if they were balls.
— Keeping pigs in crates so small, the animals were nearly immobilized and helpless.
— A sow with a prolapsed uterus that was left to die slowly after a worker botched an attempt to pull her piglets from her uterus
The hog farm is now under new management, and nine employees were charged with animal abuse.
When not working as a state legislator, Wallis heads up Unified Equine, LLC, a company that is seeking to build horse slaughterhouse in Oklahoma, Missouri, and Wyoming. Wallis has attempted to pass numerous bits of favorable legislation for large-scale animal production plants, winning her a fun nickname: “Slaughterhouse” Sue.
(Image: Thomas Bjørkan/CC 2.0)