A new “ag-gag” bill in Arkansas has passed the state house and is now moving forward in the senate, marking the surprising return of a disgraced strategy to censor and intimidate animal advocates. Even worse, the bill goes much further than previous ag-gag bills. Instead of threatening only agriculture industry whistleblowers, it targets virtually everyone.
The original ag-gag bills were meant to criminalize undercover investigators and others who expose animal abuse on factory farms. But those bills faced massive public outcry, and ultimately only five were enacted out of dozens of attempts. Of those five, one has already been overturned as an unconstitutional restriction on MFA and other animal protection groups’ freedom of speech.
That should have been the last we heard of new ag-gag bills, but Arkansas’s HB 1665 takes the dangerous precedent set by these laws to a new level. The bill would not only let factory farmers sue undercover investigators, but also let nearly any business sue workers, customers, or journalists who expose illegal or unethical workplace activity.
The potential harms are limitless. Daycare employees who speak out about child abuse, workers at food processing plants who blow the whistle on unsafe working conditions and food safety violations, and financial professionals who come forward with evidence of fraud and insider trading could all be put on the hook for their employer’s financial losses. Even worse, these brave individuals could be intimidated into silence.
This is a blanket attack on the people of Arkansas's right to speak out about important social issues. MFA condemns this un-American and unconstitutional bill in the strongest possible terms.
If you live in Arkansas, click here to tell your lawmakers to vote no on HB 1665, the ag-gag bill.
No matter where you live, you can take a stand against factory farm corruption by refusing to pay for it. Please click here to learn how to move toward a compassionate plant-based diet.