A bill has been introduced in Washington state’s House of Representatives that would criminalize the use of undercover recordings at slaughterhouses and factory farms.
The bill, also called an “ag-gag” law emulates similar laws in Kansas, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Iowa and Missouri.
If House Bill 1104 in Washington becomes a law, anyone caught recording activities at an agricultural business without the owner’s consent would be committing a crime. Violators would be guilty of a gross misdemeanor and could be penalized with up to one year of jail time and a $5,000 fine.
The bill specifies offenders as anyone who “enters an agricultural production facility that is not open to the public and, without the facility owner’s express written consent or pursuant to judicial process or clear statutory authorization, makes audio or video recordings of the assets or conduct of an agricultural production facility’s operations … .”
"I view it as a way to protect the farmer," said Rep. Joe Schmick, who introduced the bill.
Animal rights and civil rights groups are working to overturn the law in several states, but Schmick said he wants to protect agriculture practices in his state from being distorted to look like abuse.
Washington Farm Bureau director of government relations Tom Davis said House Bill 1104 provides a starting point for discussing a complicated issue.
‘Ag-Gag’ Bill Introduced in the Washington State House of Representatives
Washington Lawmaker Proposes ‘Ag-Gag’ Bill