Lawsuit Challenges Country’s Oldest Ag Gag Law

A broad coalition of animal advocacy and public interest groups is going after the oldest ag gag law in the U.S. with a lawsuit that challenges its constitutionality.

Ag gag laws, as they’ve become known, are blatant attempts to hide what’s happening on farms by criminalizing anyone who attempts to bring the truth to light. While they’ve continued to garner growing attention in recent years, they first started popping up in the early 1990s, when North Dakota, Kansas and Montana all passed legislation that make it illegal to enter facilities that are closed to the public, or to take photographs, or audio and video recordings.

Now, Kansas, which was the first to pass an ag gag law in 1990, is the target of a lawsuit that’s challenging it for violating the First Amendment by making it illegal for anyone to expose unsafe and inhumane conditions.

“The Kansas Ag-Gag law has silenced whistleblowers seeking to protect animals from cruelty for far too long,” said Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) Executive Director Stephen Wells. “This unconstitutional law exists solely to protect the financial interests of industries that abuse animals, and it will not hold up in court.”

As the ALDF notes, Kansas is a major producer of animals raised for meat, and it’s a big state for factory farming that’s become notorious for inherent cruelty to animals. Unfortunately, the state’s law has had a chilling effect on whistleblowers by preventing them from coming forward.

Meanwhile, elsewhere investigations exposing the reality of animal agriculture have led to changes in laws, convictions for cruelty and have opened the public’s eyes to what really happens to these animals behind closed doors. Without them, or free access to the truth, our ability to make informed decisions or generate a dialogue about the industry is stripped away.

Sadly, not only is this an issue that affects what we know about what’s happening to animals, it’s also stifling workers from reporting unsafe conditions, and putting food safety at risk – not to mention it stops us from holding businesses accountable for unacceptable behavior.

“Americans want and deserve more transparency into how their food is produced, not less,” said George Kimbrell, the Center for Food Safety’s Legal Director. “Videos and photos of feedlot operations with unsafe and unsanitary conditions, like those unconstitutionally banned by Kansas’s law, are vital to protecting food safety. When officials fail to enforce food safety standards, private investigations can be the only way to alert consumers and prevent contaminated meat and eggs from entering the food supply.”

While a few states have succeeded in passing various versions of ag gag laws since Kansas first did, similar attempts have been tried and defeated in a number of states and recent victories were won after they were challenged in Utah and Idaho.

Hopefully this legal challenge will help strike down the law in Kansas, leaving one less state that’s protecting businesses that have something to hide at the expense of animal welfare, food safety, workers’ rights, the public and the First Amendment.

Photo credit: Getty Images

48 comments

Mark Donner
Mark Donner3 days ago

There is no law passed down by heaven that says the HUMAN MUTATED MONKEY, has any remote right to FACTORY FARM CONCENTRATION CAMPS, HIDEOUS TORTURE AND MURDER OF BILLIONS OF ANIMALS, OR THE RIGHT TO REPRODUCE TO BILLIONS and DESTROY A PLANET'S BIOSPHERE. Humans are not "special" just because part of their demented brains can dream up gadgets and do math. Humans are the stupidest most immoral, most cancerous and destructive species in the history the universe, bar none. There are of course exceptions, but the majority of humanity is so evil, so twisted, so hellish they will hunt down the ethical and aware ones and destroy them. THAT is the nature of demonic humanity.

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sue h
sue higgins4 days ago

Any animal abuse or slaughter is beyond words and its time to shout louder and be the voice for these poor innocent animals .

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Karen N
Karen N6 days ago

Shame on any government that condones & supports "Ag Gag" laws! - Any politician that protects those who abuse animals does not belong in government, they belong in prison! - Animal suffering of any kind the world over must not be tolerated any longer & any governments & politicians that instigate, condone & support the suffering of animals must not be tolerated any longer! . . . Regardless of anyone's status in life, without morals, compassion, respect & empathy for other 'living beings', humans, animals & other creatures alike, we are nothing . . . Absolutely NOTHING! . . . Our purpose in life is to evolve & become better human beings . . . Anyone that condones, promotes, supports, participates, spectates & profits in the exploitation, suffering & harming of animals in any way whatsoever or attempts to justify the exploitation & harming of them have not only failed the animals, they have completely failed themselves as a human being! . . . A life is a life regardless of species, size & age, tame or wild, & all deserve compassion & respect! It is no more acceptable to let anyone get away with causing suffering to an animal, abusing, harming, torturing or murdering them or causing harm & death by cruel negligence than it is a human! . . . Anyone with such a callous disregard for life really does not deserve the precious gift of life themselves. http://www.befairbevegan.com/

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Debbi W
Debbi W9 days ago

Signed. Abuse is abuse, whether it is with animals or people. For abusers, the line blurs.

Loredana, meat eaters are not responsible to disturbed people's cruelty. That has been going on, to varying degrees, as long as man has stood upright.

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Debra Tate
Debra Tate9 days ago

SIGNED!

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Shirley S
Shirley S9 days ago

Animal abuse is NOT to be tolerated EVER !

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Peggy B
Peggy B9 days ago

TYFS

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Alea C
Alea C9 days ago

As long as people are willing to pay others to slaughter farm animals so they can eat their rotting corpses, there will be no happy ending for these highly abused animals.

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Ruth G
Ruth G9 days ago

THIS IS NOT WHAT A TRUE DEMOCRACY DOES!!! WHAT HAPPENED TO FREE SPEECH HERE ! TOTALLY DIFFERENT IN THE UK WHERE YOU CAN SPEAK OUT & MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC CAN DO UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATIONS IN SAY FARM CRUELTY & IT NOT THE INVESTIGATORS WHO ARE SHUT UP ,ITS THE FARMERS/WORKERS WHO ARE BREAKING ANIMAL CRUELTY LAWS THAT GET DROPPED ON & POSSIBLY PROSECUTED BY THE RSPCA IN COURT,!!!

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Loredana V
Loredana V9 days ago

If there weren't meat eaters, there would be no animal cruelty and no need to silence the activists. Meat eaters are a serious damage: for the animals and the Planet

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