Utah/Ag Gag

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Utah's Ag Gag legislation is known as HB 187, "Agricultural Operation Interference". It was introduced by Rep. John G. Mathis, and forbids people from recording videos or taking photos at agricultural facilities without authorization and provides for up to a year in jail for violations. This bill was signed into law by Gary R. Herbert.[1]

The Animal Legal Defense Fund and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a lawsuit in 2013 challenging the law.[2] A federal judge, in July 2017, ruled the law unconstitutional, and in September 2017, the Utah Attorney General declared that he would not appeal that decision.[3]

Traditionally these kinds of images and videos have exposed the routine inhumanity with which farm animals are often treated, and have led to legislation in some parts of the country to improve conditions. This is the modern-day incarnation of investigative and revelatory publishing that one can find in Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel, The Jungle, which exposed the unsanitary conditions under which meat packing plants were operating. The bill increases the opacity under which agricultural operations function, adding risk to consumers and the animals which are husbanded.

In addition, there are some pretty obvious 1st amendment issues (ie. Freedom of the press, Freedom of speech), as well as some equal protection issues. Hiding an industry from the scrutiny of a free press is not good for Utah.

See Also: Food Freedom Act

External Resources