Animal Protection,  Education & Resources

Ag-Gag Legislation

The term ag-gag typically refers to state laws in the United States of America that forbid undercover filming or photography of activity on farms without the consent of their owner—particularly targeting whistleblowers of animal rights abuses at these facilities.[1] Although these laws originated in the United States, they have also begun to appear elsewhere, such as in Australia and France. Some of these laws, such as the failed proposal in Pennsylvania, have a wider scope and could be used to criminalize actions by activists in other industries.[2]

Alabama – Passed an ag-gag law in 2002. It makes it illegal to obtain access to property “by false pretenses” and to possess records obtained by deception.

Arizona – Introduced H.B. 2587 in 2014. Failed. 

Arkansas – Introduced legislation in 2013. Failed. Passed an ag-gag law in 2017 that created a civil cause of action allowing businesses to sue whistleblowers who expose abuses happening on their farms/businesses.

California – Introduced legislation in 2013. Failed. 

Colorado – Introduced S. 42 in 2015 to require reporting of cruelty within 48 hours. This “quick-reporting” bill would prevent the collection of adequate evidence to show patterns of abuse, neglect or abandonment, potentially hindering prosecution of abusers. Bill tabled in February by its sponsor. 

Florida – Introduced legislation in 2012. Failed. 

Idaho – Passed an ag-gag law in 2014, which in August 2015 was struck down by the Idaho District Court as unconstitutional. 

Illinois – Introduced legislation in 2012. Failed. 

Indiana – Introduced legislation in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Bills failed in 2012 and 2013. Introduced S.B. 101 in 2014 which was later stripped of ag-gag-type provisions. 

Iowa – Passed an ag-gag law in March 2012 that criminalizes providing false information on an employment application with the intent to record images. In January 2019, the U.S. District Court of Southern District of Iowa struck down the law as unconstitutional. Passed a new ag-gag law in March 2019 that criminalizes using deception to gain access to an agricultural production facility with the intent to cause harm to the business.

Kansas – Passed the Farm Animal and Field Crop and Research Facilities Protection Act in 1990. It criminalizes “enter(ing) an animal facility to take pictures by photograph, video camera or by any other means” with the intent of causing harm to the enterprise. Lawsuit filed in December 2018 challenging constitutionality of law.

Kentucky – Added an ag-gag provision to a pro-animal bill in 2014. Bill died. 

Minnesota – Introduced legislation in 2011 and 2012. Failed.

Missouri – Passed an ag-gag law in July 2012. Mandates that evidence of animal abuse must be turned over to law enforcement within 24 hours, preventing the collection of adequate evidence to show patterns of abuse, neglect or abandonment, and potentially hindering prosecution of abusers. 

Montana – Passed an ag-gag law in 1991. It criminalizes “entering an animal facility with the intent to commit a prohibited act, entering an animal facility to take pictures by photograph, video camera, or other means with the intent to commit criminal defamation, and entering an animal facility if the person knows entry is forbidden.” Introduced a quick-reporting bill in 2015 providing that “a person who knowingly fails to report evidence of cruelty to animals at an animal facility within 24 hours commits the offense of cruelty to animals.” The ASPCA opposes quick-reporting bills. Bill died.  

Nebraska – Introduced legislation in 2012 and 2013. Failed. 

New Hampshire – Introduced legislation in 2013. Failed. Reintroduced H.B. 110 in 2014. Bill died. 

New Mexico – Introduced legislation in 2013. Failed. Introduced a quick-reporting bill in 2015 to make failure to turn over evidence of animal abuse within 24 hours of collection a misdemeanor. Failed. Also introduced S.B. 167 in 2017 to make using drones to conduct surveillance of a farm illegal. Failed.

New York – Introduced legislation in 2011 and 2012. Failed. 

North Carolina – Introduced legislation in 2013 and 2014. Failed. In 2015, ag-gag bill H.B. 405 passed and was vetoed by Governor McCrory, but the NC House and Senate overturned the veto. H.B. 405 went into effect on January 1, 2016. The law prohibits anyone from gaining access to the non-public area of their employer’s property for the purpose of making secret recordings or removing data or other material. The law creates a civil cause of action, allowing a business to sue for damages. In February 2016, the ASPCA joined a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of H.B. 405.

North Dakota – Passed the Animal Research Facility Damage Act, which makes it a class B misdemeanor to “[enter] an animal facility and using or attempting to use a camera, video recorder, or any other video or audio recording equipment.” 

Pennsylvania – Introduced legislation in 2013. Failed. 

Tennessee – Introduced legislation in 2013, which was passed by Legislature but vetoed by Governor. Introduced legislation again in 2014, which failed. H.B. 1838, introduced in January 2016, prohibiting anyone from gaining access to the non-public area of their employer’s property for the purpose of making secret recordings or removing data or other material. Failed.

Texas – Passed H.B. 1643 in June 2017, which makes it illegal to use a drone to take photos over a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO).

Utah – Passed an ag-gag law in March 2012 criminalizing numerous actions related to accessing and recording agricultural operations. In July 2017, the U.S. District Court of Utah struck down the law as unconstitutional. 

Vermont – Introduced legislation in 2013. Failed. 

Washington – Introduced legislation in 2015 to create the crime of “interference with agriculture production” and classifies it as a gross misdemeanor with maximum penalties of one year in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both. 

West Virginia – Introduced legislation in 2019 to prohibit access to “nonpublic areas” for reasons other than intent to perform authorized work, including capturing photographs and videos or removing other data or documents. The bill would create a civil cause of action, allowing businesses to sue for damages.

Wyoming – Introduced legislation in 2013, which failed. Introduced S.F. 12 in 2015 to criminalize the collection of “resource data” (including photos and video) on private land and prohibit it from being used as evidence in criminal trials. Governor Mead signed S.F. 12 into law in March. A 2016 revision to this law seems to indicate that it is not targeting animal cruelty investigations. In September 2017, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law as unconstitutional.

Other states have related statutes that are sometimes called “eco-terrorism” or “animal enterprise interference” laws. View this chart to see if your state currently has any kind of farm-related, anti-whistleblower law on the books. 

Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to stay up to date on ways you can help! You can also enter your zip code here to look up your governor and state legislators and contact them to ask that they vote against these dangerous bills.


https://www.aspca.org/animal-protection/public-policy/what-ag-gag-legislation – What Is Ag-Gag Legislation?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ag-gag — Ag-gag, Wikipedia

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