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Judge Rules Ban on Filming Factory Farms Unconstitutional

by Countable | 1.10.18

What’s the story?

A federal appeals court ruled Idaho’s ban on spying at farms, dairies, and slaughterhouses violates free speech rights.

In her ruling, Judge M. Margaret McKeown stated:

"We are sensitive to journalists’ constitutional right to investigate and publish exposes on the agricultural industry. Matters related to food safety and animal cruelty are of significant public importance."

Why does it matter?

In 2012, animal rights organization Mercy For Animals released undercover footage of cows being physically and sexually abused at Idaho’s Bettencourt Dairy factory farm.

In response, as The Salt Lake Tribune explained, "Idaho lawmakers passed the law making it a crime to surreptitiously videotape agriculture operations in 2014 after the state’s $2.5 billion dairy industry complained that videos of cows being abused at a southern Idaho dairy unfairly hurt their businesses."

Idaho was one of almost a dozen states with "ag gag" legislation. Similar legal challenges are currently pending in Utah and North Carolina.

Though filming will now be allowed, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled that "the law correctly criminalized those who made false statements to obtain records at an agricultural facility," the Tribune reported.

What do you think?

Do you support undercover filming in farms and slaughterhouses? Or does it unfairly hurt businesses? Should there be federal "ag gag" legislation? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: Brasil2 / iStockphoto)

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