Utah is the latest state considering Ag Gag legislation that would make it illegal to take photos or videos on farms without the owners’ prior consent.
The bill, HB 187, would make “agricultural operation interference” a class A misdemeanor on the first offense and a third-degree felony on the second offense. The bill was introduced by Rep. John Mathis, who wants to do away with what he called “animal rights terrorists.”
“There are groups with the stated purpose to do away with animal agriculture, and that’s egregious ― that’s egregious to me,” Mathis told legislators this week. “The animal welfare movement has become an animal rights movement, and that’s wrong.
The bill was passed favorably out of the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee last week, but is still receiving opposition. Some are worried that the bill isn’t specific enough, while Rep. Craig Frank pointed out the disparity between offenses and their punishments. The third-degree felony charge would be the equivalent of assaulting a police officer with substantial bodily harm.
Similar legislation has already failed in New York, Florida and Minnesota, but is now also back on the table in Iowa.
Please sign the petition asking Utah legislators to support transparency in agriculture by not passing this bill in any form.
Photo credit: The BUAV