The Humane Society of the United States is urging the Wyoming Legislature to oppose anti-whistleblower legislation introduced by State Rep. Sue Wallis, R-52. This bill, HB0126, aims to criminalize undercover investigations of Wyoming factory farms, just weeks after Wyoming law enforcement charged nine factory farm workers with criminal animal cruelty following an undercover investigation. These charges would have never been filed had Wallis’ bill been law.
The HSUS’ investigation of Wyoming Premium Farms documented rampant animal abuse and showed workers kicking live piglets like soccer balls, swinging sick piglets in circles by their hind legs, striking mother pigs with their fists and repeatedly and forcefully kicking them as they resisted leaving their young. Such cruelty would still be ongoing at the facility had this bill been law, as no investigation could have uncovered it.
“Whistleblower suppression bills like HB0126 show just how much factory farms have to hide,” said Jennifer Hillman, The HSUS’ Western regional director. “This bill punishes whistleblowers while shielding animal abusers from prosecution, and The Humane Society of the United States calls on the Wyoming legislature to oppose this dangerous bill.”
Critics question the constitutionality of whistleblower suppression bills as infringing First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press. A broad spectrum of national interest groups have spoken out against these bills, including animal protection, civil liberties, public health, food safety, environmental, food justice, legal, workers’ rights and freedom of speech organizations.
- Investigations have played a vital role on the national level in exposing animal welfare and food safety issues related to industrialized agriculture. In 2008, an HSUS undercover investigation of a slaughter plant in Chino, Calif. resulted in the largest meat recall in the nation’s history. The investigation, which revealed horrific animal abuse, led to a nearly $500 million court settlement against the slaughter plant for sending meat from sick and injured animals to the federal school lunch program.
- In a recent poll commissioned by the ASPCA, it was revealed that 71 percent of Americans support undercover investigative efforts by animal welfare organizations to expose animal abuse on industrial farms and almost two-thirds (64 percent) oppose making such efforts illegal. The nationwide survey also found that 94 percent of Americans feel that it is important to have measures in place to ensure that food coming from farm animals is safe for people to eat, and 94 percent agree that animals raised for food on farms deserve to be free from abuse and cruelty.
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