laws make it illegal for activists and journalists to go undercover to expose animal abuse on factory farms. 

Last year Ag-Gag bills were introduced in 10 states. Just last month, similar bills were introduced in New Hampshire, Nebraska and Wyoming.

The bills are nearly identical in whichever state they appear because they come from a common template created by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the conservative right-wing group behind the “Stand Your Ground” legislation enacted in many states.

In Wyoming, Ag-Gag bill HB 0126 was introduced shortly after the Humane Society released an undercover video of workers at Wyoming Premium Farms kicking piglets, beating mother pigs, and swinging them by their hind legs.

ANIMAL POST 1/2/13 “Throw Away the Key” shows workers kicking and punching pigs at a Tyson supplier's facility in Wheatland, Wyoming

ANIMAL POST 1/2/13 “Throw Away the Key” shows workers kicking and punching pigs at a Tyson supplier’s facility in Wheatland, Wyoming

Wheatland pig farm abuse.


is a master at drafting and introducing “model legislation” in states across the country, all without other lawmakers and the public having any idea of its origins. In the case of Ag-Gag, ALEC developed the Animal & Ecological Terrorisms in America bill (2003) as “model legislation” for lawmakers to use when writing laws to shield illegal and immoral business practices in factory farm operations from public and legal scrutiny.

ALEC’s success in pushing these law to its ever-fearful right-wing constituency in the wake of 9/11 is to promote its cause as a fight against “terrorism.”

Gestation crate.

Gestation crate.

The purpose of Ag-Gag and other model legislation is not necessarily for it to be introduced verbatim: it is to present a “wish list” of legislative language from which state lawmakers can pick and choose to satisfy their constituents.

A few states where ALEC’s power has been on display:

Minnesota—House File 1369 was introduced to criminalize production of an “image or sound” of animal suffering in a sweeping list of “animal facilities,” including factory farms, animal experimentation labs, and puppy mills. Four of the bills seven sponsors are affiliated with ALEC.

Utah—the second state to approve legislation targeting undercover investigators. HB 187, “Agricultural Operation Interference,” was introduced by the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee, and was originally so sweeping that it made videotaping a factory farm the same as assaulting a police officer. When the Utah Senate approved the bill, 13 of the 24 yeas were from ALEC members.

Tennessee—the “Ag Gag” bill In Tennessee was introduced by Sen. Dolores R. Gresham, an ALEC task force member. When it was being considered by the Tennessee Senate, 4 or the 6 votes in favor came from ALEC members.

Iowa—The mobilization power of ALEC was undoubtedly on display in the passage of Iowa’s Ag Gag bill. Of the 60 Iowa lawmakers who voted in support of HF 589, at least 14 of them—23 percent—are members of ALEC.

In Washington,

some of the most important Congressional players in efforts to label animal rights and environmental activists as “terrorists” are ALEC members:

Rep. Don Young, who publicly speculated in the aftermath of 9/11 that the attacks were the work of environmentalists and called for Congressional hearings on “eco-terrorism.”
Rep. Steve King of Iowa who publicly brags about his war on vegetarians.
Sen. James Inhofe, has been involved in multiple versions of “eco-terrorism” bills and hearings over the last 20 years.

Help from: Green is the New Red.com, a website about how fear of “terrorism” and use of the word “terrorist” are being exploited to frighten lawmakers into backing a disproportionate, heavy-handed government crackdown on the animal rights and environmental movements.