These laws — which have become known as ag gag laws — are blatant attempts to hide what’s happening on farms and criminalize anyone who attempts to bring the truth to light. They started popping up in the early 1990s, when North Dakota, Kansas and Montana all passed legislation that make it illegal to enter facilities that are closed to the public, or to take photographs, or audio and video recordings.
Since then, attempts to pass similar laws have been tried and defeated in a number of states, but a few have unfortunately succeeded in passing various versions of them.
Utah’s ag gag law was passed in 2012, which made it illegal to record an agricultural operation while trespassing or entering the premises on false pretenses, whether it was an activist, undercover investigator or journalist, and it would apply regardless of whether the issue exposed was animal cruelty, or violations of food safety and other laws.
Soon after the law was passed, Amy Meyer, a resident activist, became the first person in the nation to be prosecuted under one of these laws.
Her crime? Videotaping cruelty to a cow who was unable to walk on its own. The cow was pushed with a bulldozer and treated like trash at the Dale T. Smith and Sons Meat Packing Co. in Draper City. Meyer made the recording with her cell phone from the roadside while she was on public property, yet she was charged with agricultural-operation interference. Her case sparked national attention and outrage, and the charges against her were later …read more