Chickens raised for food spend their lives in dirty sheds with tens of thousands of other poultry. The intense crowding often leads to outbreaks of disease and unsanitary conditions. The chickens are pumped with hormones to grow so large that their legs and organs can’t keep up, making heart attacks, organ failure, and growth deformities common.
Disturbingly, state legislators around the country are bowing to corporate pressure and considering laws that will keep consumers in the dark about these abusive conditions by punishing undercover documentation by investigators at slaughterhouses and farms.
The corporate-friendly American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—also infamously responsible for pushing Stand Your Ground and Voter Suppression ID laws—is lobbying this and similar laws in six states. The laws will criminalize the filming of animal abuse at factory farms, as well as punish those that lie on job applications to get hired.
“This, I think, is a good example of just how much this industry has to hide,” said Paul Shapiro, spokesperson for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). “You know you’ve got a lot to hide when you want to make it a crime merely to take a photo of what you are doing.”
Bills are being considered in California, Nebraska, Tennessee, Indiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. Other states like Minnesota, Vermont, and North Carolina are expected to consider similar laws.
Videos exposing the suffering of slaughterhouse animals have already sparked many states to pass similar laws to what ALEC is pushing. In Iowa, for example, an “Ag-Gag” law makes it a misdemeanor to infiltrate farms, and Utah bans unauthorized photography in farms.
Ashley Wright is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.